EL CENTRO, Calif. (CN) – Federal prosecutors charged two 21-year-old men with trying to buy grenade launchers, 40mm grenades and an M-4 rifle and export them to Mexico. Yoahjan Lara Flores, of Heber, Calif., and Arturo Lara, of El Centro, were arrested last week and pleaded not guilty.
Lara Flores also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was convicted in 2009 of importing marijuana and was on supervised release when he was arrested, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Mexico has complained – to little effect – that many of the guns used in the country mass murders in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere are imported from the United States. Some 30,000 people have died in Mexico since 2007 in a continuing battle for control of the country’s drug market.
Mexican officials, including the president, have complained that the vast majority of the drugs are not consumed in Mexico, but that the country serves as a “trampoline” to send the drugs to the United States.
The smuggling of guns from the United States to Mexico has received far less press coverage than the smuggling of drugs the other way.