Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Guns Galore

Monday, September 6, 2010 |

We know the issue of firearm smuggling in Mexico brings out some heated arguments on both sides, but we post these matters related to illegal weapons in Mexico to give a wide spectrum of discussion. Just like illegal immigration this issue continues to be very divisive and explosive in a personal basis.

Frontera Norte Sur

A man arrested in connection with the largest reported weapons seizure in recent Mexican history remains jailed in a maximum security prison outside Mexico City.

Jaime Gonzalez Duran, alias “The Hummer,” was arrested November 7, 2009 along with two other men in the northern border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, by the Mexican army and Federal Preventive Police.

In the Reynosa raid, federal authorities confiscated 428 guns, 287 grenades and more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition. A rocket launcher, fourteen sticks of TNT and other explosive material were also recovered. A military deserter, Gonzalez is alleged to be a co-founder of the Zetas crime gang, which hatched as the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel but reportedly later branched out on its own to at least 17 Mexican states and the Federal District.

In the aftermath of Gonzalez’s detention, the Mexican press quoted a document attributed to federal security agencies and the armed forces that detailed weapons confiscations from December 1, 2006 to October 30, 2008, the first 23 months of the administration of President Felipe Calderon.

Mexican officials purportedly seized 25,657 guns- including 13,807 assault and other rifles- 1,642 grenades and 2.4 million rounds of ammunition.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the arms were seized in the states of Tamaulipas, Michoacan, Jalisco, Sonora, and Chihuahua, all entities with high degrees of narco-violence. The Gulf Cartel was the organization hit hardest by the law enforcement actions, according to the report. Authorities linked seizures of M72 and AT-4 anti-tank rockets, RPG-7 grenade launchers and other military weaponry to the criminal organization.

The Reynosa bust and subsequent revelations of weapons confiscations raise important questions. Mexican and US law enforcement authorities routinely pin the soaring levels of narco-violence in Mexico on gun-smuggling from the United States, where firearms are much easier to legally obtain. Legal gun shops and gun shows are frequently cited as sources for the deadly contraband, and sometimes arrests are made.

To stem the flow of weapons across the border, proposals are or in place or in the air to tighten sales at US gun shows, increase vehicle checkpoints at border crossings and improve data bases of weapons purchases by US citizens so guns could be better traced if they wind up in the wrong hands south of the border.

Recently, Mexican military police randomly stopped and searched pedestrians on one of the international bridges between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Yet many of the weapons confiscated in Reynosa and elsewhere in the Mexican Republic are not run-of-the mill guns for sale at the corner store or weekend show. In the US, it is simply not legal to sell grenades and anti-tank missiles alongside deer rifles. And AK-47s, the preferred weapon of the narco gunslinger, are manufactured in many different countries.

So, what then is the origin of the bulk of illicit weapons used in Mexico? Are significant numbers of US gun dealers maintaining legal fronts just to run an illegal cross-border business? Are crates of automatic weapons from throughout the world somehow sneaking by Mexican port inspectors? Are government officials in both the US and Mexico with access to military weaponry operating a bloody but profitable business? Unfortunately, few answers to these questions have been forthcoming. With respect to grenades, for example, Mexican authorities have yet to publicly reveal how so many of the devices are floating around and exploding across the country.

Meanwhile, guns and bombs continue to blaze across Mexico. In one 24-hour period in Ciudad Juarez earlier this week, at least 11 people were slain gangland-style, including two men and two women who were gunned down during broad daylight in front of a hospital. A headless body was dumped in front of a police station, while another couple was machine-gunned while driving on a busy street in the center of the border city.

In the Baja California cities of Tijuana and Playas de Rosarito, 9 killings initiated a bloody week that continued to get bloodier. The victims included Omar Rodriguez, an ex-state police agent and a former bodyguard for world boxing champ Erick “El Terrible” Morales, and 33-year-old Alejandro Esquivel Baez, who was shot in his home by assassins as he ate dinner with his wife and two young daughters.

In Sinaloa, between 50-100 armed men traveling in 15 pickup trucks kidnapped 27 men identified as agricultural laborers November 10 from La Guajira tomato and cucumber farm, a property linked to an in-law of the Carrillo Fuentes family of Juarez Cartel fame. And in Chihuahua City, also the scene of numerous executions, firebombs scorched the chic Maria Chuchena restaurant and El Dorado seafood diner in an upscale section of the city. On November 11, bomb threats prompted the closure of one university campus and the evacuation of the Plaza del Sol mall.

According to a story in El Universal, nearly 4,500 people have been murdered in narco-related incidents during 2008 so far-a record high.

Sources: Norte, November 11, 2008. Article by Carlos Huerta. Frontera, November 11, 2008. Univision, November 11, 2008. Lapolaka.com, November 10, 11 and 12, 2008. La Jornada, November 8, 10 and 11, 2008. Articles by Gustavo Castillo, Miroslava Breach, Antonio Heras, editorial staff, and the Notimex news agency. El Universal, November 11 and 12, 2008. Articles by Javier Cabrera and the EFE news service.

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21 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

i think the grenades have been mostly older ones, left over from older wars in third countries.

Anonymous said...

" 428 guns, 287 grenades more than 500,000 rounds of ammunition. A rocket launcher, fourteen sticks of TNT and other explosive material...
[yeah, you can get this stuff cheap at gun shows]

Here is it is --->

A military deserter, [Jaime] Gonzalez [Duran],is alleged to be a co-founder of the Zetas crime gang, ..."

Could it be he has the keys to the armory??

It's definitely not cousin Hugo that's standing behind you with a big knife for your back.
see:http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/09/guns-drugs-and-la-barbie.html#comment-form

Do you love Hugo as much as you hate the US?

Anonymous said...

If these violent gangs smuggle tons of drugs into the USA,,, How easy it must be to smuggle guns and ammo into Mexico, where if you work for the government and are honest,, you are told,, go with the program or else. If the justice system in mexico is not totally overhauled this will never end. The USA must take over this operation to free the Mexican people from this evil force. God Help Mexico !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Even if the supply of firearms from the US were to be completely cut off the Cartels would still be able to replenish their armories from other sources - the international arms trade, central & south america etc.

This is a 'non issue' & will not put the Cartels out of business.

Anonymous said...

I read a while back i believe after the car bomb that killed the doctor in juarez that the cartels have links to terrorist such as al queda. Wouldnt it be possible to ship in weapons by the boatload from those areas provided of course the proper funding.

Anonymous said...

For starters, an "assault weapon" is by definition a machine gun. And the guns I see are far too new to have been obtained in Los Estados, where civilians with tens of thousands to spend on toys are limited to those more than twenty years old.

What I see are less than five years old, and produced in military arsenals in China and Pakistan. There are other sources - but those are what I see.

How did they get there? That is an odd question for Borderland Beat! They were smuggled in, along with drugs, people, and other contraband. As you know, it is easy when you control the police.

Anonymous said...

The Mexican people need to help themselves instead of the USA taking over operation in Mexico to help the people. Have we not learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan? If big brother comes to the aid of these people and the Mexican government, why would the people and government ever chose stand up not to mention the cost in manpower and resources. “US NATIONAL DEBT”

Anonymous said...

The information I got, back when I worked along the Rio Grande Valley / Tamaulipas border, is that the grenades were mainly "dud" training grenades that enterprising narcos had re-packed with semtex. Why do you think there were so many stories about them failing to explode?

Anonymous said...

What is weird for me is all the weapons they have, yet so few magazines?

Anonymous said...

ok, Anonymous 7:49 am. I don't know where you get your definition of "assault weapon", but as a former Marine and current police officer, we define assault weapon quite differently.

Any weapon capable of selective fire OR any semiautomatic weapon with certain cosmetic features, including some pistols and some shotguns.

And for your information, take a trip to any gun store where any number of these guns can be purchased new or used for a few hundred dollars.

And in the US we get a lot of our weapons from China. Not sure how you can determine those in the photo are of Pakistani or Chinese origin. I can't and I do this for a living.

The ATF has determined that the majority of weapons sales originate in the US (the vast majority). As someone else said, though, if they didn't get them here, they would get them shipped in - although the numbers would be smaller because they would be harder to ship in from overseas without being detected.

Anonymous said...

the volume of the weapons suggest otra sources ...international arms dealers?...mebbe some from central america...it is hard to believe they ALL come from the USA...and just in case some of you USA haters don't know...the cuerno de chiva,,,, the favorita arma de narcos , is NOT USA MADE...I WISH ALL AMERICANS OF MEXICAN DESCENT WOULD STAND UP FOR THEIR COUNTRY...YOU ARE AMERICANS ...NOT MEXICAN...IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME ...GO TO MEXICO AND TELL HIM YOU WERE BORN IN THE USA, OR THAT ARE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN....HE WILL SAY TO YOU ...OHHH THEN YOU ARE AN AMERICAN ...NOT A MEXICAN

Anonymous said...

The U.S. is already involved, only in small pockets along the border inside the Mexican states bordering Texas. They are assisting at check points and in intelligence given to them by captured detainees back in the states. But there are also the snakes in the grass. Some American authority figures, and we are talking about from your regular cop on the street to your state troopers to your sheriffs, to your border patrol, and even homeland security agents are known to be helping the cartels smuggle in illegals, and drugs into the U.S. as well as weapons back across to Mexico. How do you suppose these tons and tons in shimpments get all the way up north without being detected near the border or higher up north en route? We do hear that so and so was caught with a couple of pounds of this or that but we all know that is nothing. I've met a couple of American figures of authority who will straight up tell you that they have family in the CDG or Zs.

Anonymous said...

One cannot be twisted and unfair about the obvious state of affairs we contribute to on this issue. Any fair person cannot discount the likely probability that MANY of the weapons do come from sources other than the US...but, I can also see that the US has to be one of the (if not the number 1) MAJOR SUPPLIERS into Mexico.

C'mon guys... you're just being intransigent if you cannot accept the evidence staring you in the face! NO QUIERAS TAPAR EL SOL CON UN DEDO. (...translated, it means something roughly like... Don't try to cover the sun with one finger [and say its night-time or that you're in the shade]." or "Don't pee on my leg and tell me its raining."

Everyone around the globe knows that the American firearms market is the poor man's gun "shopping mall." Any "little guy" can get one!! Once someone gets past the gun's 1st ownership, its lost forever!

I encourage you to just imagine if we were compelled to ONLY register the brand new cars that are purchased with ZERO miles. DOES THAT MEAN THAT CARS WITH MORE THAN ZERO MILES DON'T EXIST? NO ONE OUT THERE HAS RESOLD OR USED AN OLDER TOYOTA? So...no one buys used cars off of Craig's List, then? And they're not making it on Mexican streets?

That's just dumb.


BTW @ 10:33... Fuck you and your trying to make this into a nationalist/race issue. You are the idiot if (for you) something is right or wrong depending on your skin color or where you were born. Since there are no competing interests in your life, tell us at what point DO YOU decide between two integral parts of you? Imagine deciding between providing insulin for one child but not chemotherapy for the other?

Your racial/nationalist arguments only expose the narrow and isolated outlook on the world around you... like most of your fellow grade school drop-outs.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous 8:11, I'm old school, myself. And I generally get my information either from friends on the spot, or from published pictures. If you look around the web you will see what I see.

As far as Justice's, NOT ATF's, statement that "90 percent of the Cartel's guns come from the US" is a long debunked and politically motivated lie. This tinyurl goes to a FOX report that pegs it at 17 percent:

http://tinyurl.com/ykqw3kl

My sources agree - stolen guns from the EU are smugglers backhaul. But the percentage of guns sourced from the US ranges from 8 to 17 percent. And the percentage that are assault weapons is vanishingly small.

Anonymous said...

Can Mexican federal authorities use these siezed weapons off the arrested allegedly drug traffickers? Those weapons are so exclusive that the federal police do not have, so why don't they use them instead? They would shoot down a helicopter.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, Germans built up a high wall between the East and West sides to prevent citizens and tourists from travelling between the East and West sides. Can't the U.S and Mexico do the same thing? They would, but they will be beaten by drug cartels. They holed the tunnels from underground. Mexican drug cartels are too smart; they could find other ways to get into the U.S. such as the submarines, helicopters and they probably have many airstrips hidden that is yet to be found.

Anonymous said...

We have been pushing for a fence that will stop people and goods from flowing both directions across the border ever since 1988. In 1995 we got a few miles of fences at the cities and towns that are adjacent to each other where this illicit cross border traffic was going on.

After that the fences were built further and further out from the towns until they were almost touching. But that stopped in 2009 when all funding was pulled for any projects not started. Since then the only thing accomplished has been repair and modifications to correct problems.

It is unbelievable the amount of opposition that has been encountered from civil rights and environmental groups and most of all the federal government itself. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture have been adamant that they don't want a border access road along the frontinera or any fences at all in the National Parks, Monuments, Raparian Areas, Wilderness Areas or Memorials. It has been a neverending round of discourse between the US (now) Customs and Border Protection Agency (which used to be three separate organizations under three Departments) to get some requirements waived so the fencing could be placed to accomplish the anti smuggling needs of this country.

I have no doubt that a lot of guns and tons of money are going South because we don't have secure borders. If we can't stop folks going North how the hell can Mexico or anyone else think they can be stopped going South.

I am a border dweller and I see it happen on a regular basis. I've been here for 38 years and have seen the best and worst of it all from my living room windows.

[NOTE: By "we" I am referring to myself and the residents of my community. I am not a USBP Agent nor a federal employee. I have been active in supporting the deployment of the border fences in my area.]

Anonymous said...

Let's swap our living room windows. Mine - there are numerous of yachts and boats sailing across the sea, as well as the fishing boats. The view may be beautiful but boring. If I was looking out from yours, I think I'd get excited and scared. I never have seen something like that before in my life. The view would be a deadly dangerous.

Anonymous said...

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN RETARDED....WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT


BTW @ 10:33... Fuck you and your trying to make this into a nationalist/race issue. You are the idiot if (for you) something is right or wrong depending on your skin color or where you were born. Since there are no competing interests in your life, tell us at what point DO YOU decide between two integral parts of you? Imagine deciding between providing insulin for one child but not chemotherapy for the other?

Your racial/nationalist arguments only expose the narrow and isolated outlook on the world around you... like most of your fellow grade school drop-outs.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN RETARDED....WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT..ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE AMERICAN MORONS THAT IMAGINE YOURSELF TO BE A MEXICAN,,,WHEN REALLY YOU AREN'T... OR ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE "WORLD CITIZENS'...DESPIERTA PENDEJO...THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A WORLD COMMUNITY ...MEBBE A FEW RICH TRUSTAFARIANS WHO FANTASIZE ABOUT IT....THE REST OF THE WORLD IS VERY NATIONALISTIC , AND MOST CITIZENS OF OTRO PAISES ARE VERY PROUD OF THEIR COUNTRY....YOU SHOULD JOIN THAT WORLD COMMUNITY...YOU KNOW THE ONE BASED IN REALITY... YOU NEED TO TRAVEL MORE AMIGO...OH AND BY THE WAY ...CHINGARA TU PINCHE CULERO

Anonymous said...

Who the fuck are you ?Nothing more than a puto know it all. Who posts anonymous

Anonymous said...

Wow, beautiful weapons, drug cartels has beaten the hell out of the authorities with these damn powerful arsenals. What are they (police) going to do with these seized weapons?

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