Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two pieces on the Mexican Gun Canard

First, from Salon of all places:

And yet, let's take a closer look at those guns...

On night patrol in Reynosa in November, soldiers came upon some suspicious men, who led them to a house that was packed with armaments for the drug cartels -- 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 14 sticks of dynamite. [...]

The war analogy is not a stretch for parts of Mexico. Soldiers, more than 40,000 of them, are confronting heavily armed paramilitary groups on city streets. The military-grade weapons being used, antitank rockets and armor-piercing munitions, for example, are the same ones found on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are these being bought at gun shows in the U.S.? Unlikely.
Bill Conroy at NarcoNews has done excellent reporting on the drug war and gets to the bottom of this in Legal U.S. Arms Exports May Be Source of Narco Syndicates' Rising Firepower

The Obama administration is now sending hundreds of additional federal agents to the border in an effort to interdict this illegal arms smuggling to reassure an agitated middle-America that Uncle Sam will get these bad guys. The cascade of headlines from mainstream media outlets printing drug-war pornography assures us in paragraphs inserted between the titillation that the ATF's Operation Gunrunner and other similar get-tough on gun-seller programs will save America from the banditos of Mexico.

But in reality, while the main weapons are getting to the cartels from the U.S., they're not being smuggled into Mexico, and so no interdiction efforts will help.

The deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports, measured in the billions of dollars, and sanctioned by our own State Department. These deadly trade commodities -- grenade launchers, explosives and "assault" weapons --are then, in quantities that can fill warehouses, being corruptly transferred to drug trafficking organizations via their reach into the Mexican military and law enforcement agencies, the evidence indicates.

That's right, the ultimate source of the guns used by the cartels in Mexico? The U.S. government.
And remember the word about serial numbers?
Conroy follows the trail of the shipments of legal guns to Mexico, noting that while these weapons could be traced...

But that assumes the Mexican government, and our own government, really want to trace those weapons. A November 2008 report in the San Antonio Express News, which includes details of the major weapons seizure in Reynosa, Mexico, that same month involving the Zetas, reveals the following:
Another example of coordination problems occurred this month. Mexican authorities in Reynosa across the border from McAllen, seized the country's single largest stash of cartel weapons -- nearly 300 assault rifles, shoulder-fired grenade launchers and a half million rounds of ammunition.

But weeks later, Mexican authorities still have not allowed the ATF access to serial numbers that would help them track down the buyers and traffickers on the U.S. side.

[...] A former DEA agent, who also asked not to be named, says the shipment of military-grade weapons to the Mexican government under the DCS program, given the extent of corruption within that government, is essentially like "shipping weapons to a crime syndicate."

Add to that all the stuff mentioned in the LA Times article on smuggling across Mexico's southern border and on the coasts... As the Armed Schooleacher puts it,
This newest gambit is basically the same idea wrapped in a tortilla. It only sounds scary until you think it through; if you were a leader in a Mexican cartel with access to rifles, ammunition, grenades and RPG's from Mexican military arsenals, M16 rifles and ammunition from scavengers all over South America who have old American military exports to sell on the cheap, and a dozen other sources . . . would you be sending people to gun shows in Tucson and Albuqurque to find someone with a clean background check to buy a few semi-automatic rifles and then try to smuggle them south? When it fails, it'll end up the same way as The Terrorist CanardTM did--forgotten once it's no longer useful as a club to bea gun owners over the head.

Thanks to Uncle for the links.

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