http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_9008708 U.S. soldier jailed after entering Mexico with guns By Daniel Borunda and Chris Roberts / El Paso Times Article Launched: 04/22/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT A U.S. Army soldier could face up to 15 years in a Mexican prison after crossing the border into Juárez -- reportedly by mistake -- with several firearms. Spc. Richard Raymond Medina apparently was on leave driving from Fort Hood, Texas, to California before beginning a new Army assignment, said Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt. Offutt obtained the information from the law enforcement officials at Fort Bliss. Medina, whose age was not known, reportedly took the wrong lane and accidentally entered Mexico. As he tried to turn around, he was stopped by Mexican authorities, Offutt said. Channel 9-KTSM (cable Channel 10) reported that Medina had an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun in his possession when he was arrested by agents with the Mexican attorney general's office. Television showed several clips for the rifle, which had a scope and was in a case, ammunition and a U.S. Army identification card. Medina also was shown in custody. Offutt said the weapons were Medina's personal firearms and there was no intent to sell the firearms. It was not known where Medina was taken by Mexican authorities. U.S. consulate officials in Juárez could not be reached for comment. The roads leading to Juárez are marked by signs -- showing a gun inside a slashed circle -- warning visitors not to take firearms into Mexico. In 1998, the Texas Department of Transportation put up the signs warning people not to take firearms or ammunition to Mexico after nearly 20 tourists were arrested on weapons charges in Juárez. Under Mexican federal law, the possession of a weapon designated for exclusive use by the military (such as an assault rifle) is punishable from four to 15 years in prison. Possession of less-powerful firearms is punishable by two to seven years in prison. The latest incident comes amid heightened efforts by Mexican federal authorities to stop the battle for Juárez between rival drug cartels that often fight with firearms smuggled from the United States. "What they (Mexican authorities) are seeing is more and more powerful weapons going into Mexico and what they do is fuel the drugs cartels," said Special Agent Tom Crowley, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF agents have been working with Mexican authorities to trace weapons used by drug trafficking gangs supplied by U.S. gun-runners. Firearms sold in Mexico can get four to six times the price they were bought for in the United States. "Mexico has very strict gun laws, so they (persons caught in Mexico) would be held to those standards," Crowley said.