A Mexican national was arrested Sunday after he was allegedly found to be illegally transporting a firearm.

A deputy with the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office stopped a silver Toyota Hilux traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 77 in Ricardo shortly before 6 a.m. for speeding.

When the deputy approached the vehicle, he reportedly noticed a large brown-paper package in the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Victor Manuel Acuna, 43, of Gonzalez, Mexico, told the deputy he was transporting the package for a friend but was unaware of its contents.

The deputy received consent to search the vehicle and examined the package, and found it contained a Marlin Model 60 .22 caliber rifle with scope and 100 rounds of ammunition.

Acuna was arrested and charged with firearm smuggling, which is a third degree felony. Officials also discovered his visa to be in the United States had expired.

Acuna was transported to the Kleberg County Jail, where he was being held on a $15,000 surety bond for the smuggling charge and a U.S. Border Patrol detainer for the expired visa.

In an interview Tuesday, Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick said although the rifle was a small caliber gun, the case is part of an alarming trend his department has seen over the past few months.

“This, we believe, is a growing trend. This is the third case in the past three or four months of weapons smuggling,” Kirkpatrick said. “In the past few days, border patrol agents were shot at on the southern border. You don’t know what this weapon could be used for.”

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