Mayor of New Mexico Border Town Indicted for Gun Smuggling

Running easily purchased American guns to Mexican gangs is all the rage these days in the Great American Southwest, so you know it couldn't be long until a border town's mayor, sheriff, and city council got in on the fun.

Last week the feds arrested 11 people in New Mexico and charged them with trafficking hundreds of guns to Mexican drug gangs. Among them were Eddie Espinoza, the mayor of Columbus, N.M.; Angelo Vega, the town's police chief; and Blas Gutierrez, who sits on Columbus' village council. The indictment accuses Espinoza of acting as a straw purchaser for 22 pistols destined for Mexico and of renting an apartment in El Paso, Texas, to store weapons. Vega, the police chief, is accused of buying bullet-proof vests to smuggle to the cartels. All together, they stand accused of buying more than 200 guns in 14 months.

Columbus is directly across the border from Palomas, Mexico, and is described by the AP as suffering for years from "allegations of rampant drug and human smuggling, an economy awash in narcotics cash from Mexico, and a revolving-door department that had been led by six police chiefs in three years." Sounds more like Old Mexico, amiright?

[Via Talking Points Memo; photo of guns via AP]