PHOENIX - Three men accused of supplying hundreds of assault rifles and other guns to violent Mexican drug cartels have made their first court appearance in Phoenix.
George Iknadosian, 46, the owner of X Caliber Guns in north Phoenix, is accused of knowingly selling guns to "straw purchasers" paid to give the guns to members of drug cartels.
Iknadosian appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday evening. His bond was set at $75,000, and his next hearing was set for May 13, when he is scheduled to enter a plea.
Two Mexican brothers accused of recruiting straw purchasers to buy Iknadosian's guns also appeared. Bond for Hugo Miguel Gamez, 26, and Cesar Bojorquez Gamez, 28, was set for $100,000.
They also are scheduled to enter pleas next week.
It was unclear whether Iknadosian and the Gamez brothers had lawyers. The three were being held in the Maricopa County jail. The sheriff's office did not immediately answer a request to interview the men.
Assault rifles and other high caliber weapons are a hot commodity among Mexican drug cartels, who use the weapons in deadly confrontations between rival cartels and against law enforcement officers.
Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say Iknadosian knew where the guns would end up, and sold at least 650 firearms to drug cartels through the fake buyers.
The 11-month investigation into X Caliber Guns began after authorities traced some guns involved in crimes in Mexico to the store. In that time, undercover ATF agents and Phoenix police detectives have gone into X Caliber and bought guns after indicating they were to be trafficked to Mexico, officials said.
Iknadosian and the Gamez brothers face state charges including conducting an illegal enterprise, misconduct involving weapons, money laundering, forgery and fraudulent schemes.