Mexico Asks For US Help In Stopping Guns Going South

AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

Mexico is a nation that has a lot of advantages. It’s a major producer of petroleum as well as copper, gold, silver, and a host of other natural resources means that the country should be in a good position economically. Since the country also produces a lot of agriculture, they should be well-positioned indeed.

Unfortunately, the nation isn’t.

Instead, it’s infested with drug cartels and corruption. Meanwhile, they like to blame the United States for at least part of their issues.

Now, they’re asking for help.

Illegal guns are flowing into Mexico from the U.S. at a record pace, and the Mexican government isn’t happy about that.

Mexican officials say those guns are contributing to rising homicide rates in their country and empowering transnational criminal organizations blamed for most of the 120,000 murders reported in Mexico in the past three years.

“We estimate that half a million weapons are trafficked from the U.S. to Mexico every year. The problem is that all this weaponry is getting to the criminal organizations, giving them very strong firepower to commit all kinds of crimes,” said Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon, Mexico’s consul general in El Paso.

Ibarra says Mexico has strict gun laws and its single army-run gun store only issues a couple of hundred gun licenses per year. Virtually every gun used to commit a crime comes from abroad, and seven out of 10 are traced back to the United States, records show.

Actually, that isn’t quite what that report says. At the beginning, there’s this disclaimer:

Firearms selected for tracing are not chosen for purposes of determining which types, makes or models of firearms are used for illicit purposes. The firearms selected do not constitute a random sample and should not be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or any subset of that universe. Firearms are normally traced to the first retail seller, and sources reported for firearms traced do not necessarily represent the sources or methods by which firearms in general are acquired for use in crime.

In other words, seven out of 10 traced were traced back to the United States. That is not necessarily representative of anything. That’s important to note, especially since so many people keep wanting to change our gun laws to help Mexico out because of that report.

That report also covers the period of Operation Fast and Furious, where the ATF directed gun stores to knowingly sell guns to people who they believed would transport them to Mexico. How many of the traced weapons were sold as part of that operation?

As for Mexico’s desire to have more American help, federal agencies say they can and intend to do more.

However, there’s only so much we can do as a nation. After all, we’ve already made it illegal to buy guns for illicit purposes. That includes sending them to other countries. While agencies may be able to step up enforcement of those laws, there’s still only so much anyone on this side of the border can do.

Much of Mexico’s problems stem from Mexico itself. It’s long been a hotbed of corruption, which only made it that much easier for the cartels to move in and essentially take over entire parts of the country. If they’re serious about reducing the violence, they have to target the cartels with a concerted effort to not just make prosecutions, but possibly treat them as an insurgent army within their borders.

Until then, there’s not much that will change no matter what we do on this side of the border. It’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET