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Baja California Police Detain Man With Sniper Rifle

Baja California police say a man they detained, who had a high calibre armor piercing gun, offered officers $20,000 to let him go.

State police say an anonymous tip led them to the 32-year-old Joaquín Pedroza Ávila who was in a parked car. Officers say they found the gun in the back seat.

The Barrett .50 calibre, also known as a sniper rifle, can hit targets more than a mile away. Armies around the world use the gun or a slightly modified version. U.S. and Mexican federal officials say the Barrett is a highly prized weapon for drug cartels in Mexico.

The weapon retails for about $9,000 in the U.S. However, a federal official says a joint investigation by the Mexican Attorney General's Office, the Mexican Army and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms revealed the market price for the gun amongst Mexican drug cartels is between $40,000 and $50,000.

California banned sales of .50 caliber machine guns in 2004. However, the guns are available in Nevada and Arizona.

Police in Tijuana have seized Barretts previously. Mexican authorities say one was part of a plot to assassinate Tijuana's Director of Public Security last October. In October 2008, the Mexican Army seized another Barrett after a shootout with drug cartel members that left one soldier dead.

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