A Mexico judge has reduced the charges against an American trucker accused of smuggling a truck full of rifle ammunition across the border, accepting his claim that he only crossed into the country by accident.
Mexican border officials arrested Jabin Bogan in Ciudad Juarez this April with 268,000 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle. Bogan said he made a wrong turn and accidentally crossed into Mexico. One of his attorneys said a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer instructed him to continue driving into Mexico, but an official from that agency said none of their officers spoke with Bogan that day, the Associated Press reported.
An initial press release by Mexican prosecutors said the ammunition was hidden under the truck's floorboards, but two customs agents and Bogan's lawyer say it was readily visible.
Bogan's previous charges of ammunition smuggling could have landed him in prison for 35 years. He is currently being detained in a Veracruz maximum security prison. The appeals judge's decision to lessen the charge to possession of ammunition means Bogan could serve his sentence by performing community service or paying a fine.
InSight Crime Analysis
Ammunition trafficking into Mexico has increased in recent years. Where under a thousand bullets were seized by US authorities along the Arizona-Mexico border in 2007, the number jumped to 95,000 in 2011. That state, along with Texas, where Bogan crossed, is a major ammunition supplier, due to lax regulations on mass gun and bullet purchases.
US law enforcement has few options to combat the illicit flow of guns and ammunition. Attempts to prosecute even the largest of arms salespeople who violate gun laws have been thrown out of court or are simply not prosecuted. A controversial program started in August 2011, which required gun dealers to report sales of multiple rifles of a certain type yielded sale reports for 7,300 rifles -- most of them from Texas -- according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) press release. Given the intense opposition in the US to programs like this, the ATF has been effectively neutered in its attempts to stop to Mexico-bound illicit arms and munitions.