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Gunrunners

Investigating the saga of the WASR-10, an AK-47 knockoff and weapon of choice for Mexico's cartels. A Web-exclusive report.

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Phoenix, AZ Anatomy of a Trace

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Mexican federal police watch investigators examine a crime scene where eight policemen were killed, two wounded, following a shootout in Culiacán. The police came under fire from heavily-armed gunmen affiliated with the Beltrán Leyva organization. Police killed one gunman in the May, 26, 2008 shootout, and captured two others. Several suspects escaped. A gunman's rifle led investigators to a straw buy made at X Caliber Guns in Phoenix, Ariz. [Photo: The Associated Press]
Among the weapons police recovered after the shootout were seven AK-47 style assault rifles, along with 36 magazines, 4 large drum magazines and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
One rifle recovered in the shootout was a Romanian AK-47-style rifle called a WASR-10. The gun was imported into the U.S. by Century International Arms. Using the rifle’s serial number, SBH-4629-85, the ATF National Tracing Center determined the rifle was originally purchased by Camron Galloway at X Caliber Guns in Phoenix, Ariz.
The serial number of the WASR-10 Mexican authorities seized in the May, 26 Culiacán gun battle is listed in section D of the ATF form 4473 that Galloway signed on Jan. 30, 2008. Section D, sometimes referred to as the firearms section, lists the firearms being purchased in a given sale.
Question 11(a) asks, "Are you the actual buyer of the firearm(s) listed on the form?" This question was at the heart of the State of Arizona’s case alleging Iknadosian was involved in fraudulent gun sales. Despite the form’s warning that, "you are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person," Galloway, who never paid for the guns and left them in the store for Cesar Bojorguez-Gamez to pick up, answered "yes."
Galloway was 21 years old when Hugo Gamez, his coworker at a vehicle emissions testing center, approached him about acting as a straw purchaser for his brother, Cesar. Like most of the straw purchasers in the case, Galloway was living at home and making a low hourly wage. After initially declining the offer, Galloway finally agreed to sign for firearms on Cesar’s behalf in exchange for $100 per gun. Galloway signed for a total of 13 WASR-10 assault rifles in three visits to X Caliber Guns between Dec. 27, 2007 and Jan. 30, 2008.
Investigators suspect traffickers sent more than 700 guns, bought at X Caliber, into Mexico. Of those, at least 320 were Romarm WASR-10s imported into the U.S. by Century International Arms.

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Posted February 3, 2011

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