Mexican Soldiers Seize Old U.S. Warhead From Civilian

Posted: Jan 13, 2012 6:33 PM
Updated: Jan 13, 2012 6:59 PM

A missile once used by the U.S. Army is now in the hands of the Mexican military. Mexican soldiers seized the warhead from a civilian who reportedly had it in the back of his truck.

We've told you about Mexican cartels and their ties with terrorist organizations. Just a couple months ago, a guy in Corpus Christi traveled through the Valley to meet with people he thought were Zetas. Federal agents say the guy wanted to hurt diplomats in D.C. Now, a man in Mexico is arrested for having a warhead. He told authorities he was trying to find a buyer.

A picture released by Mexico's ministry of defense shows the weapon, a smoke-inducing FZ32.

"Which is a smoke warhead. It's used for either marking targets or just as a smoke round," says Texas Army National Guard Capt. Eric Zepeda.

Zepeda looked through history books at the Texas Army National Guard.

"It's the kinds of missiles you would have seen on TV and the old Vietnam days firing from a helicopter, for instance, onto the ground," says Zepeda.

Zepeda says he has no idea where someone would go to get one. He has no idea because Zepeda says the weapon is retired.

"The missile saw service in Korea and in Vietnam. After that, it was discontinued. A more updated version of the rocket came out. It's an older model," says Zepeda.

The color, however, is still used today. Zepeda says blue usually indicates a less-than-lethal weapon, a non-explosive round often used during target practice.

"I just know as a civilian, as a citizen of the United States, surely when any illegal activity occurs, citizens take notice, and I am sure are concerned," says Zepeda.

So are authorities in Mexico. A 41-year-old man was arrested during a joint operation between Mexico's army and state police in Sonora. Reports indicate the seizure happened in Hermosillo Monday, a 20-hour drive southwest of the Valley. The man confessed to buying the warhead in Mexico. He had hopes of finding a buyer.

The U.S. Army replaced the FZ32 missile with what's called a Hydra 70, according to Zepeda. Both are missiles are often shot in the sky and pointed at the ground.

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