PHOENIX – Federal and state officials said they broke up a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking operation on Tuesday that provided violent Mexican drug cartels with hundreds of weapons.
The owner of a gun shop called X Calibur Guns, George Iknadosian, 46, knowingly sold at least 650 firearms to drug cartels, according to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The firearms ranged from high-end semiautomatic pistols to assault-style rifles.
"These are weapons of war for the cartels and they're procuring them here by illegal means," Peter Forcelli, an ATF supervisory special agent, told KTVK-TV in Phoenix.
The investigation into X Calibur began 11 months ago, and in that time, undercover agents with ATF and Phoenix police have gone into the store and bought guns after indicating they were to be trafficked to Mexico, ATF special agent Carlos Baixauli told The Associated Press.
Agents raided the store Tuesday and arrested Iknadosian, a Glendale resident. Also arrested were two Mexican brothers legally living in the Phoenix metro area.
Baixauli said the brothers, identified as Hugo Gamez, 26, and Cesar Gamez, 28, worked for a major Mexican drug cartel.
The three were in the custody of Phoenix police and face charges including conducting an illegal enterprise, misconduct involving weapons, money laundering, forgery and fraudulent schemes.
"The bottom line is illegal gun trafficking is not only destroying Mexico, but some of these guns may get back to the United States," Baixauli said. "It puts our law enforcement officers in danger, and in Mexico, it decimates law enforcement."
Further details of the operation are to be announced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at Attorney General Terry Goddard's office. ATF, the U.S. Marshals Office, Phoenix police and the Mexican Attorney General's Office are set to attend.