The mayor and the police chief of a small New Mexico town have been arrested as part of a gun-smuggling ring, the WSJ reports.The men were among 11 suspects from Columbus, N.M., indicted last week for allegedly conspiring to smuggle hundreds of semi-automatic weapons to drug gangsters in nearby Palomas, Mexico.
Palomas has been ravaged by a drug turf war that claimed 4,400 lives in Mexico’s Chihuahua state last year, according to Reuters.
News of the New Mexico arrests swept through Columbus just days before the anniversary celebration of Pancho Villas’ 1916 raid on the town. The annual festival now honours peace and friendship between Columbus and Palomas.
The federal raid in Columbus was part of a broader U.S. crackdown as gun trafficking becomes a source of growing tension between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexican politicians have complained loudly that U.S. agents fuelled drug violence by allowing guns to “walk” across the border as part of the ATF’s investigations.
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