Federal authorities are joining the investigation into the theft of 115 handguns and 35 rifles from an Albuquerque gun store in a case that is considered a top priority in the state due to the inherent threat for the community.
Tom Mangas, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the Associated Press that the heist puts a “tremendous amount of firepower in the hands of criminals. The serial guns’ serial numbers were entered into a federal database. The report said that, in most cases, these guns end up in Mexico.
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KRQE.com reported that JTC Firearms was burglarized at about 2:45 a.m. on earlier this week. The thieves used a high level of sophistication and cut the power and surveillance systems to the entire store. The store reportedly promoted its high firearm inventory in the days prior to the burglary. ToddStarnes.com called the store, but there was no answer.
On May 20, the store posted on Facebook that it was carrying “plenty of handguns, home defense shotguns, AR-15’s and AK-47’s in stock. Including Glock, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, Ruger, Colt, Springfield Armory, CZ and FN just to name a few. Over 1000 guns in stock and new guns arriving daily.” The store also posted that it had “hundreds of cases” of ammo in stock.
There was no indication that the burglary had anything to do with the recent looting in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
The ATF and the National Shooting Sports Foundation are offering up to $10,000 for information in the case. The theft is considered to be the largest this year from a shop in the southwestern U.S.
Gabriel Pinon, a special agent in charge, said in a press release that ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms. “This crime is a top priority for ATF and we stand committed along with the Albuquerque Police Department to recovering these stolen firearms and ensuring the safety of our community.”