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 Breaking NewsYOUR SOURCE FOR CALIFORNIA, NATIONAL & GLOBAL BREAKING NEWS

Mexico's Massive Illegal weapons coming from China and the U.S.

 

by Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter June 22, 2008 9:00 pm PDT

 

 

William Hoover, Assistant Director for Field Operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), recently told the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affaires Subcommittee on the Western  Hemisphere that the violence fueled by Mexico’s drug cartels poses a serious challenge for both U.S. and Mexican Law Enforcement in that the drug trafficking related violence is threatening the well being and safety of citizens on both sides of the border. Mr. Williams is in charge of operations of all of the Bureau’s field offices, including those along the Southwest Border.

 

Mr. Hoover pointed out that the ATF has long been committed to investigating and disrupting groups and individuals who utilize firearms trafficking as a means to facilitate the drug trade on both sides of the border through the use of firearms illegally obtained in the U.S. and subsequently smuggled into Mexico.  Mexican President Calderon and Attorney General Medina Mora have identified the cartel-related violence as a top priority and have proclaimed the illegal trafficking of U.S.-sourced firearms the “number one” crime problem affecting the security of Mexico today.

 

Public safety along the U.S.-Mexico border has deteriorated considerably and Mexico has seen nearly five years of intensified bloody turf battles between the major Mexican drug cartels operating within Mexico. The ATF claim that the  battles for control over lucrative narco-corridors into the U.S. from Mexico are the result of intense U.S. and Mexican law enforcement and military counter-narcotics operations and extraditions that commenced in late 2003 targeting the leaders of the most prolific Mexican drug cartels.  In seeking to gain control of the disputed corridors, namely the Baja/Tijuana, Sonora/Nogales, Juarez/ Chihuahua and Nuevo Laredo corridors, Mexican drug cartels and their ruthless Mexican and American gang enforcers have more aggressively turned to the U.S. as a source of firearms. The weapons are then used against other cartels, the Mexican Military, Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials, as well as innocent civilians on both sides of the border.

 

The ATF says that the intelligence gathered by them and other domestic Federal law enforcement entities indicates that the cartels or as they like to call them DTOs have tasked their money laundering, distribution and transportation apparatuses, all of which reach across the border into the United States, to acquire firearms for illegal transfer back to Mexico for use in facilitating narco-trafficking and other criminal activities.

 

In analyzing the data collected through ATF’s investigative and regulatory operations that have been focused on the abatement of illegal firearms trafficking to Mexico, there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.  An in-depth, comprehensive analysis of firearms trace data over the past three years shows that Texas, Arizona and California are the three most prolific source states, respectively, for firearms illegally trafficked to Mexico.

 

Until recently, the Mexican drug cartels “weapons of choice” had been .38 caliber handguns.  However, recent trace data of firearms seized in Mexico and “Stateside” interdictions of firearms bound for Mexico shows that cartel members and gang enforcers have now developed a preference for higher quality, more powerful weapons.  The most common of these firearms now includes the Colt AR-15 .223 caliber assault rifle, the AK-47 “type/variant” 7.62 caliber assault rifle, FN 5.57 caliber pistols (better known in Mexico as the “Cop Killer”… or “Asesino de la Policia”).  In conjunction with the dramatic increase in U.S. source firearms that have either been recovered in Mexico, or interdicted prior to reaching Mexico, ATF also routinely seizes small arms and assault rifle ammunition destined for Mexico.  ATF has also seized large quantities of .50 caliber ammunition for use in high-caliber long range sniper weapons and machine guns.

 

The National Association of Retired Border Patrol Agents reported that the following are the first paragraphs of a long editorial found in Diario de Xalapa  (Xalapa, Veracruz), a member of “O.E.M.”, (A Mexican editorial organization ) a large media chain of 70 newspapers in Mexico. This particular column was found to have been removed from this and other ”O.E.M.” sites when they returned to it later today.
 

(SEC) "The alarming figures about crimes committed by the underworld in Mexico, which overall since Dec. 1, 2006 to date surpass 4,800 executions, demonstrate that in the country organized crime, the guerilla and narcotraffic have in their hands as many weapons as the national government.
The main clandestine entry of weapons into the country is done through the northern border and the Pacific, originating from the big American firms and from China, where there is no control for the transfer of weapons produced by their five gigantic firearms industries factories. For Georgina Sanchez, a researcher with the Latin American Social Sciences (”FLACSO”) in Mexico, there is an amount estimated at between 12 and 20 million high power firearms, mostly AK-47s from China, and 40 million pistols and rifles, the majority of them in the hands of guerilla fighters, narcotraffickers and organized crime.
 

As hard as one might fight (because in Mexico no one has declared war on anyone else since the EZLN did so on Jan. 1, 1994) against the criminals, nothing will be accomplished by the federal, state and city governments as long as firearms traffic is not brought to a halt."

As such, ATF is working with Mexican officials to increase their current usage of ATF’s eTrace system. eTrace provides web based access to ATF’s Firearms Tracing System to allow law enforcement both domestically and internationally the ability to trace data from firearms seized in connection with a criminal investigation.  eTrace allows law enforcement to access their trace results directly and offers the ability to generate statistical reports to analyze their trace data to determine firearms trafficking trends or patterns.  In addition, ATF is developing Memorandums of Understanding with Mexico to provide e Trace training to nine consulates in Mexico.  This initiative should increase the amount of trace information Mexico provides to ATF each year.

 

ATF is also part of the Administration’s recently announced “Merida initiative.”  Mr. Hoover told the committee "This initiative is a comprehensive U.S. strategy to address drug smuggling, firearms trafficking, and increasing violence in Mexico and Central America.   If the FY 2008 supplemental is enacted, ATF would receive $2 million through the initiative to assist in the expansion of Spanish eTrace to countries in the Central America region.   Funding would also be used to deploy an ATF regional advisor to Central American countries to assist them with firearms trafficking issues.  As part of the proposed Spanish eTrace expansion, ATF would provide training to Mexican and Central American countries to ensure that the technology is utilized to the greatest extent possible."

 

Sources:

 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FORMER BORDER PATROL OFFICERS

United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affaires Subcommittee on the Western  Hemisphere

Mexican Federal Government

“O.E.M.”, ( Mexican editorial organization )

Editorial found in Diario de Xalapa Newspaper 

ATF

Latin American Social Sciences (”FLACSO”)

Open source international news organizations