NASCAR Champion Arrested in Mexico After Handgun Found in Baggage, Sentenced to Years in Prison


NASCAR champion Kyle Busch has been sentenced to serve more than three years in a Mexican prison after he brought a handgun into the country while on vacation last month.

In a news release Friday, federal prosecutors in Quintana Roo, the Mexican state that is home to Cancun, said Busch was caught carrying a loaded .380 caliber pistol in his baggage during a Jan. 27 search at Cancun International Airport.

The release said he had been found guilty and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and a fine of about $1,100.

It is not clear how the sentence will be carried out by Mexican authorities, as the NASCAR star is back in the United States.

Perhaps he will have to avoid vacationing in the country for the remainder of his life.

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Busch addressed the incident in a statement he posted on Twitter on Monday evening.

“In late January, Samantha and I enjoyed a several day vacation in Mexico,” he wrote, referring to his wife. “When departing the country, my handgun was flagged during routine screening at the airport. I have a valid concealed carry permit from my local authority and adhere to all handgun laws, but I made a mistake by forgetting it was in my bag.

“Discovery of the handgun led to my detainment while the situation was resolved. I was not aware of Mexican law and had no intention of bringing a handgun into Mexico. When it was discovered, I fully cooperated with the authorities, accepted the penalties, and returned to North Carolina.”

Busch apologized for the error and concluded by saying he considers the matter “closed.”

The driver, who finished third in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum event in Los Angeles, is slated to compete in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.

Authorities in Mexico are particularly upset that Busch was carrying hollow point ammunition with the gun, which is a bit peculiar. Given Mexico’s issues with violent crime and mass murder, common sense might lead some to believe an American possessing a handgun and ammunition would not warrant such a stiff punishment.

But on the topic of common sense, what was Busch thinking? There is so much wrong with this story.

We gun owners have a responsibility to ourselves and others to practice basic firearm safety. That includes remembering when we are armed.

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And not be to too rough on Busch, but accidentally taking a loaded firearm into another country is on an entirely different level of naivety.

At least the racer owned up to the mistake and is prepared to move on.

Perhaps he can learn from it. Others would be wise to use it as a cautionary tale in the event they ever start thinking of soaking up the Cancun sun in the dead of winter.

Would you travel to Mexico?

Those of us who carry firearms should consider vacation spots that respect the individual right to do so. Florida is beautiful this time of year.

Nonetheless, Kyle Busch is a talented driver who belongs on a race track and not in a Mexican prison cell.

In that vein, he should probably rule out ever competing in the Mexico City Grand Prix.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.