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American citizen in Mexican custody on arms-trafficking allegation

By Rafael Romo, CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
  • Mexican authorities say firearms and grenades were told to cartel members
  • Weapons parts were bought in the United States and smuggled, authorities say
  • In Mexico, weapons were assembled and sold
  • An American citizen is in Mexican custody in connection with the alleged smuggling

(CNN) -- Mexican authorities have an American citizen in custody who they say is suspected of trafficking firearms and grenades to a major Mexican drug cartel.

According to Mexico's attorney general's office, Jean Baptiste Kingery Moinssonm was allegedly smuggling firearm and grenade parts into the country. Once the goods were in Mexican territory, Moinssonm allegedly assembled and sold the weapons to the Sinaloa cartel.

Mexican federal police took Moinssonm into custody in Mazatlan, a beach resort in the Pacific state of Sinaloa, authorities said.

According to a news release Tuesday from the attorney general's office, Moinssonm was the target of a joint investigation by Mexico's Anti-Organized Crime Unit (SIEDO) and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on suspicion of smuggling grenade components and firearm parts through the border cities of Calexico, California; and Mexicali, Baja California.

ATF officials were not immediately available for comment on the attorney general's statement.

The statement said Moinssonm allegedly bought grenade components and firearm parts in gun shops in the United States and through the internet, and the weapons subsequently would be smuggled into Mexico for sale there.

A Mexican judge issued an arrest and search warrant targeting an address in Mazatlan, where the suspect was living. Mexican federal police said they seized a Hummer truck, three .22 caliber rifles and two collectible firearms.

Mexican federal police said they searched five other addresses in Mazatlan tied to the suspect and found an active fragmentation grenade, gunpowder, parts for high-caliber rifles, bullets and grenade parts.

Last April 13, Mexican police detained two Mexican suspects in the state of Baja California who were in possession of 192 inactive grenades, eight bullet-proof vests, and multiple firearm parts.

The two suspects detained in Baja California blew the whistle on another American citizen who was detained August 11 in Mexicali, Baja California. That suspect, identified by the Mexican attorney general's office as Habib Sayb Mujica, is being held under a 40-day detention order issued by a judge.

Tuesday's statement from the attorney general's office said Mujica gave police information later used to capture Moinssonm in Mazatlan.