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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

American citizen in Mexican custody on arms-trafficking allegation

By Rafael Romo
CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

Jean Baptiste Kingery Moinssonm

(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.



  1. Neither one of these two "americans" has a name like anyone I grew up with, worked with, or lived near. Where do these jerks get off being "american"? Why do we give citizenship to people like this?

    1. Obviously, you didn't grow up in Louisiana where French names are common.

  2. "Mexican federal police said they seized a Hummer truck, three .22 caliber rifles and two collectible firearms."

    This HARDLY sounds like a major player in the arms trade responsible for arming the CDS. sounds more like another attempt to distract us from the fast and furious debacle like when they arrested that family with the gun store last week. If this is the types of people they are targeting in their investigations, no wonder law enforcement is considered a joke!

    1. Actually, if you were to dig into this this a bit further you would learn that there were only two flintlock pistols found with were made in the 1700's. There were no 22 calibre firearms found. Also, the Hummer was reported as having no license plates but in actuality license plates and license stickers are seen on vehicles windows.

  3. @ E here I will give you a little more information I found about this guy.

    Federal authorities are probing why the U.S. in 2010 let go an Arizona man accused of supplying grenades to a Mexican drug cartel, a case that played a role in the ouster last week of the nation's top firearms regulator and the U.S. attorney in Phoenix.

    Then-U.S. attorney Dennis Burke speaks in January about recovered weapons.

    U.S. officials said missteps in the case, which hasn't been previously disclosed, are being investigated by the Justice Department and Congress. Federal agents in 2009-10 at the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led the case against the suspect, who they believed was dealing grenades to cartels in Mexico. The case was overseen by prosecutors in the Arizona U.S. attorney's office, the U.S. officials said.

    The Arizona U.S. attorney's office and the Phoenix ATF office are the Justice Department units behind another botched operation, called Fast and Furious, which has been the subject of intense congressional interest this year. The Fast and Furious program allowed suspected smugglers to buy about 2,000 firearms, some of which later turned up at drug-related crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.

    Jean Baptiste Kingery, the suspect in the grenades case, was arrested Aug. 31 in Mexico and has been charged with violating that nation's organized-crime laws, according to U.S. officials.

    Mexican police raided his home in Mazatlan and other locations nearby where they reported finding materials that could be used to construct 500 grenades, the officials said. A confidential informant told U.S. investigators last month he had provided Mr. Kingery with components for 2,000 grenades, they said. Mexican authorities, who haven't made the arrest public, didn't respond to repeated requests for comment. An attorney for Mr. Kingery couldn't be located.

    U.S. prosecutors say they continue to pursue possible charges against Mr. Kingery.

    Like Fast and Furious, the grenades case has exposed severe discord between federal agents and prosecutors in Arizona over how to pursue the trafficking of drugs, weapons, people and cash between the U.S. and Mexico.

    The weapons trade is bustling along the border because of a ready market in Mexico, where legal private firearms ownership is severely restricted, and easy supplies on the U.S. side. U.S. authorities say cases are hard to prove because they must guard against infringing on legal gun-owner rights. In the case of inert grenades, the parts are legal to possess and an infraction occurs only when someone tries to export them without a license.

    This account is based on interviews with three U.S. officials and others familiar with the case as well as documents describing it.

    ATF agents arrested Mr. Kingery in Arizona in June 2010 after months of surveillance and seized 116 grenade hulls and parts in his possession, the officials said.

    The suspect told investigators he helped operate a mill in Mexico manufacturing improvised explosive devices made from the U.S.-sourced grenade components, they said. Mr. Kingery allegedly said he supplied the weapons to a cartel called La Familia Michoacana and also helped the cartel convert semiautomatic rifles into military-style machine guns.

  4. Nonetheless, he walked free without being charged after just hours in custody, officials said.

    That decision is at the crux of a bitter fight between ATF agents and prosecutors at the U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix. The lead ATF agent on the grenades case, Peter Forcelli, "was horrified with the thought of releasing this individual" and "practically begged" senior prosecutor Emory Hurley "for permission to arrest the suspect on a criminal complaint," according to an Aug. 31 letter sent to a congressional committee on Mr. Forcelli's behalf by an attorney with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, a group that provides legal assistance to law enforcement officers.

    Officials from the U.S. attorney's office dispute that Mr. Hurley, who oversaw both Fast and Furious and the Kingery cases, declined to prosecute, according to officials familiar with the accounts provided to investigators. These officials said prosecutors wanted to continue following the case and possibly bring charges at a later date.

    Officials from the U.S. attorney's office also have told investigators that the ATF agents freed Mr. Kingery because the agents wanted to make him an informant. Mr. Kingery maintained contact with agents for several weeks, then disappeared, the U.S. officials familiar with the case said.

    The prosecutors involved also accuse the ATF agents of a misstep at an earlier stage. In January and February 2010, U.S. and Mexican agents devised a sting that allowed Mr. Kingery to take delivery of hundreds of grenade parts in the U.S. and cross the border into Mexico, officials said. U.S. agents lost Mr. Kingery on the highway to the border and Mexican authorities failed to stop him at the crossing, they said.

    The Kingery case is now under scrutiny by investigators from the Justice Department inspector general's office. Lawyers from the office of Deputy Attorney General James Cole in recent weeks gathered information on the case. The findings helped decide the fates of Kenneth Melson, acting director of the ATF, and Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney in Arizona, who were ousted from their posts last week, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Hurley, who didn't respond to requests for comment, was reassigned.

    Mr. Burke said in a statement released to employees last week that he resigned to pursue other opportunities. Mr. Melson said in a statement that he was taking a new post in another division of the Justice Department.

    Messrs Burke and Melson didn't respond to requests for comment on the Kingery matter.

    Investigators from the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), and the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), are also probing the Kingery case as an extension of their Fast and Furious probe. "Information suggesting that a prosecutor, who exercised dubious judgment in Operation Fast and Furious, also made similar decisions in a separate case is certainly disconcerting," a committee spokesman said.

    Mr. Forcelli is among ATF agents who provided testimony earlier this year about missteps in the Fast and Furious operation. The officers association's letter alleges that he is the victim of "whistleblower retaliation" because of that testimony.

    A key point of contention is whether Mr. Forcelli and his team got proper clearance for the operation that led to the botched sting in February 2010. In October 2009, a prosecutor in the Kingery case told ATF agents that "We cannot approve [allowing] the illegal export to be accomplished," according to an email read to The Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors and Justice Department officials have cited the email to investigators to contend that the ATF agents failed to get clearance.

  5. But the ATF agents disagree and cite a January 2010 email exchange that appears to show high-level approval. The latter email described the operation in detail, including a plan to let Mexican authorities track the suspect in hopes of finding a grenade-manufacturing facility in Mexico.

    Mr. Burke, then the U.S. attorney in Arizona, is among the officials in the email exchange and responds to the summary of tactics: "Agree [with] the course of action as the variables play out." The email exchange was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Mr. Forcelli said in a statement, "I am very proud of the work the ATF did in this case and I can assure you that at no point did we ever endanger the safety of the public with our actions." The statement said he described aspects of the case in a deposition with congressional staffers and the Justice Department inspector general's office.

  6. @Texcoco
    Thanks for shedding more light onto this whole situation. However, there is so much that still stinks about the whole thing to me. I am not saying that this guy is any kind of innocent, far from it! But I think that the people sending most of the weapons down south arent getting caught because they are the ones in charge of stopping it! This whole situation is a great example of why you never put the inmates in charge of the asylum, if you know what i mean! jajajaja!

  7. Well I do agree with you about this to be another attempt to distract us from the fast and furious, I also don't believe this men did all the buying and smuggling all by himself.

  8. news reports from mexico said he was a close associate of the one and only El Chapo Guzman-Loera. LMFAO

  9. After reading the caption "American citizen in Mexican custody" I was dissappointed when the picture wasn't Eric Holder.


    So Ariz Atty General was either crooked or incompetent - probably both.

    We already know ATF can't get out of their own way. We also know that Holder is incompetent.

    Everybody wants to (they say) set up the big, perfect sting. Result is nobody gets busted and few firearms are interdicted. This is mostly the product of INCOMPETENT US FEDERAL OFFICIALS. Heads should be rolling and they are not rolling. How can any country trust the US.

    At least the Mexicans are putting people in jail.

  11. Now the American Consulate is goingo to say that he is innocent. That the mexican federales got his ass because he is a white boy! That the mexicans are at fault for not been able to defeat the cartels!

    1. Actually the U.S. Consulate and Embassy pushed for his arrest in order to appear that the U.S. government was serious about prosecuting weapons traffickers. After he was tortured by the Mexicans, the U.S. government chose to do nothing. Even after his arrest was shown to be illegal and that American agents illegally took part in his interrogation and execution of search warrants nothing was done by the Sate Department.

  12. The problem in this case is that it involved US training grenade bodies that were being transported to MX and converted to improvised grenades by plugging the hole in the bottom and then filling filling them with gunpowder. Before being converted, these items are not considered weapons in the US.

    Sure everybody can see the problem here, but the AUSA probably figured the case would not have much jury appeal given that this mutt was not transporting real grenades. The real grenades come from the Mexican military and Central America.

    These improvised grenades are far less peppy than the real HE frag grenades the cartels use most of the time. They are more like little pipe bombs. Sure it would suck to get hit by a chunk of one, but they produce far less frag and have far less power than real grenades that are filled with Comp B instead of smokeless powder.

  13. So a case that is over a year and a half old is trotted out to try and take the shine off the real case involving the ATF?? how stupid does CNN and the Government think the public are??

  14. This just happened yesterday.

    Torreón, Coahuila — Elements of the Sixth Military Zone arrested seven Americans with arms and 1,600 dollars cash in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila. The Secretariat of the National defense (Sedena) informed, that thanks to an anonymous tip , the group of foreigners was located, the items confiscated were eleven firearms, cartridges, communication equipment and two vehicles.

  15. Texcoco, they should have shot the Gringos instead of arresting them, we need photos!!!

  16. I Highly agree with you Anonymous !!!! Your comments says it all.

  17. Jean Baptiste Kingery Moinssonm? American my ass! This guy is Frencher than shit


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