Kyle Busch confirmed Monday that he was briefly detained at a Mexico airport in January for having a handgun in his possession.
In a statement, the 37-year-old NASCAR driver explained that he was vacationing with his wife, Samantha, in Mexico. He was set to return to the United States when his gun, which he says he has a permit to carry, was flagged during a security check at Cancun International Airport. Busch said he mistakenly left the firearm in his bag and he did not intend to bring the weapon on the trip.
“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,” Busch wrote in the statement posted to Twitter. “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.”
Busch said that when the handgun was discovered in his bag he “fully cooperated with the authorities, accepted the penalties and returned to North Carolina.”
“I apologize for my mistake and appreciate the respect shown by all parties as we resolved the matter,” Busch said. “My family and I consider this issue closed.”
The driver’s statement comes after reports from Mexico, as well as a press release from local authorities, say that Busch was sentenced to more than three years in jail for bringing a gun into the country, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck. Local police also said that Busch was fined about $1,100 for the incident, per Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports.
Busch made his debut for Richard Childress Racing on Sunday at the NASCAR Cup Series exhibition race in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He finished third behind teammate Austin Dillon, while Martin Truex Jr. won the race.
The 2023 Cup Series season officially begins Feb. 19 at the Daytona 500.