Saturday, July 30, 2011
27 Automatic Rifles Go Missing From California Army Base
Twenty six AK-74 Automatic rifles and a SVD Dragunov SVD sniper rifle were reportedly stolen from from a warehouse in Southern California's Fort Irwin this month.
ATF and military officials say that one of the missing rifles has been recovered and one arrest has been made, but the agency is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to additional arrests and the recovery of the remaining weapons.
The weapons were reported missing on July 15th, although ATF and Army officials declined to clarify why it took 2 weeks for word of the missing weapons to be made public. Military and federal officials also declined to say whether or not the suspect in custody was military or civilian.
Both the AK-74 and Dragunov rifles and variants are common in former Soviet Bloc countries as well as the middle east. The Army base in the Mojave desert is home to the National Training Center, which has a dedicated OPFOR (Opposing Force) unit- the 11th Armoured Cavalry Regiment. Using weapons and equipment typically found elsewhere, the OPFOR is designed to mimic tactics that regular the Army units rotating through the NTC would encounter in combat zones elsewhere.
Two years ago, theives in northern California broke into locked parking lots at police stations in Contra Costa county and stole law enforcement-issue shotguns and AR-15 rifles from the California Highway Patrol and Contra Costa County Sheriff's Dept. patrol cars.
Fort Irwin is located between the Los Angeles area and Las Vegas. The nearest town would be Barstow, which is located about a 3 hour drive from the Mexican border. Numerous media reports claim that the Mexican cartels have a preference for the AK variant rifles, hinting at a likely destination for the pilfered weapons.