Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexican Guns Tied to U.S.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 |

By Evan Perez
The Wall Street Journal

American-Sourced Weapons Account for 70% of Seized Firearms in Mexico


The U.S. was the source of at least 70% of 29,284 firearms recovered by authorities in Mexico in 2009 and 2010, according to new U.S. government figures.

The statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are expected to add to controversy over the U.S. role in fueling drug-cartel violence in Mexico, which has killed more than 40,000 people since 2006.

U.S. gun-rights groups long have disputed assertions by the U.S. and Mexican governments that trafficking from the U.S. is a major source of weapons in the cartel wars. They have contended the majority of Mexican guns come from Russia, China and elsewhere.

The controversy was fueled in recent years when U.S. officials backed off earlier claims that up to 90% of firearms recovered in Mexico were of U.S. origin.

The findings come as the ATF defends itself against congressional critics for its Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, which lawmakers say inadvertently eased trafficking of weapons to cartel gangs.

Lawmakers say the agency lost track of firearms and allowed 2,500 weapons into the hands of suspected traffickers. A weapons cache found in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in April included five firearms that the ATF has now linked to suspects in the Fast and Furious operation., The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The ATF figures show that 21,313 firearms recovered in Mexico in 2009 were submitted for tracing by the agency. Of these, 10,945 were manufactured in the U.S. and 3,268 were imported into the U.S. from third countries before ending up in Mexico. The origin of 7,100 firearms couldn't be determined.

Of 7,971 firearms recovered in Mexico in 2010 and traced by ATF, 4,186 were manufactured in the U.S. and 2,105 were imported into the U.S. The origin of 1,680 firearms couldn't be determined.

Collectively, the data show that of the 29,284 firearms recovered in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 and submitted to the ATF for tracing, 20,504 or 70% passed through the U.S. at some point. The period is the most recent for which data are available.

The ATF said it traced the guns based on information provided by Mexican authorities. The Mexican government doesn't submit every firearm it recovers for tracing.

Mexico has strict restrictions on gun ownership, with most legitimate sales processed through one store on a military base near Mexico City.

ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson provided the data to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), who requested the information. It represents the first such analysis to be made public by the agency. The law limits how ATF can share the data it obtains from tracing guns used in crimes.

Sen. Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, said in a May letter to Mr. Melson that "military-style weapons are arming Mexico's brutal drug trafficking organizations at an alarming rate. Releasing data on firearms recovered in Mexico that originate in the United States will ensure that the American public and policymakers are aware of the severity of this problem."

The figures prompted strong reactions from advocates on both sides of the U.S. gun-control debate.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said he doubted the ATF figures. He said given the ample resources of drug cartels, traffickers easily import weapons from Russia, China, and Central America, rather than risk trying to smuggle firearms from the U.S. "I think all these numbers are phonied up for politics," Mr. LaPierre said in an interview. "The law enforcement people I talk to tell me this doesn't make sense."

Dennis Henigan, vice president of Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said: "The traffickers are following the path of least resistance. They're going to American gun shops, exploiting the permissive U.S. gun laws. It's beyond time for the United States to strengthen its gun laws and shut down the trafficking."

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17 Borderland Beat Comments:

Jeff the Baptist said...

"Collectively, the data show that of the 29,284 firearms recovered in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 and submitted to the ATF for tracing, 20,504 or 70% passed through the U.S. at some point."

These numbers are great, but they mean nothing unless you can correlate them with the total number of firearms recovered in Mexico in 2009-2010. The statement is always that 70% or 90% of Mexican crime guns originate in the US. Except that Mexican authorities only run a subset of their recoveries through the ATF, so that the actual number is significantly lower.

It also looks like drug traffickers are tapping into military stockpiles throughout Latin America created by US foreign and direct military sales, which a very different problem from US private sales that are subject to US gun-control laws.

Anonymous said...

"The mexican government does not submit every firearm it recovers for tracing" WHY NOT? IS IT SO YOU CAN KEEP POINTING BLAME ON THE U.S, YOU ONLY TEST THE ONES YOU ARE ALMOST POSITIVE COME FROM THE U.S, IF YOU TESTED THE OTHER 95% YOU RECOVER YOU WOULD HAVE TO BLAME YOUR CORRUPT MILITARY, CHINA AND SOUTH AMERICA, WHICH YOU HACKTIVISTS ALWAYS LEAVE OUT, WHAT ABOUT THE ROCKET LAUNCHERS? AND THE GRENADES? AND THE EXPLOSIVES, WHY NOT TRACE THEM? THIS PROPAGANDA IS REALLY STARTING TO STINK AS BAD AS THEBATF GUN RUNNERS..

Anonymous said...

For all the gun nuts out there, pay attention. Facts are facts and are undeniable.

Anonymous said...

Old Hat What is the Point, lets ban gun ownership in the US and allow the Drug trafficers to control the US Media, just what is Mexican/liberal journalism Moaning about??

Anonymous said...

people in the US are just so stubborn, they will not accept blame for ANYTHING even if they are caught red handed. how does it not make sense? please tell me when just 2 months i saw an article on here showing how 34 Arizonians and 3 Texas citizens were charged by the Feds for trafficking assault weapons to the Zetas and Sinaloa cartels.

Anonymous said...

I think these stats are designed to help foster anti-gun legislation, don't you? If you can't get it one way, you get it another, right Mr. President?

Anonymous said...

The artical states the guns passed through the U.S at one point. That does not mean the guns went from the U.S directly to Mexico. They could of been sold to another country who in turn sold them to the cartels. These assholes (our gov) will have to come knock on my door and physicaly pry my guns from my hands to take them away from me.

Anonymous said...

"American-Sourced Weapons Account for 70% of Seized Firearms in Mexico"
AND
"The U.S. was the source of at least 70% of 29,284 firearms recovered by authorities in Mexico in 2009 and 2010, according to new U.S. government figures."
AND
"The ATF said it traced the guns based on information provided by Mexican authorities. The Mexican government doesn't submit every firearm it recovers for tracing. "

How can you write a story that contradicts itself and the title? Good job mainstream media!

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/04/02/myth-percent-small-fraction-guns-mexico-come/

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110209-mexicos-gun-supply-and-90-percent-myth

Anonymous said...

June 14, 2011- 10:34PM,

What's your point? Accept blame for what? Last I heard it was the MEXICAN cartels doing the killing, not Americans. When are you and others like you going to understand it doesn't matter, where the guns came from..the drug cartels have billions of dollars at their disposal, they can purchase weapons from anywhere!

Yea 100%..the U.S. has CONTRIBUTED to the violence in Mexico by being drug consumers and being a gun supplier but MEXICO is 100% responsible for what happens in MEXICO..not the U.S.!

Anonymous said...

The ATF doesn't have the resources to trace every gun in Mexico, that's a fact! Get over it crazy cons.. As an avid gun user, I will argue one thing, whether they come from the US or South America, cartels will find a way and a place to buy them. On the other hand, what really pisses me off, is that a lot of these gun runners were buying dozens of weapons at a time. These gun dealers should lose their licenses and pay hefty fines, there is no excuse for that.

Anonymous said...

If you could stop the flow of guns..logically you could stop the flow of drugs. In both cases (guns or drugs) the product has to cross an international border. My point is if we can't stop the drug flow, then we are not going to stop the gun flow! Money talks my friend..the real problem is corruption..if individuals working both sides of the border did their job the problem would be predominately solved. So, both countries share the blame..

Anonymous said...

"Collectively, the data show that of the 29,284 firearms recovered in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 and submitted to the ATF for tracing,"

Except that if you check your own articles , you will find that Mexico seized far more than 29K of guns in those two years. They only submit to the ATF those guns they think came from the US. They don't bother with the guns with only chinese,indian,pakistani,or Russian markings and no US imprints.

Every time an info site falls for this, you just helped the cartels by placing the blame elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Lets focus on the morons shooting the guns; not were there coming from. I don't care that there coming from the U.S central america or mars. Go after the animals instead of pointing fingers.

Anonymous said...

Americans like usual don't want to take any responsibility when facts are facts and are undeniable. Instead like usual they say its not those who sell the guns, its the ones who shoot them. Well when you know these people are narcos and you still sell them the weapons, they are just as guilty. Its called Aiding and Abetting, maybe all of you should learn your own laws. And who cares if its 70% percent or 18% the sad fact is that they shouldn't be in criminal hands in the first place morons.

Ardent said...

This below, from the type of US Right Wing nitwit that would be screaming bloody murder if his beloved Pentagon were to be claiming that China was supplying North Korea with high powered weaponry.

Anonymous said...
Lets focus on the morons shooting the guns; not were there coming from. I don't care that there coming from the U.S central america or mars. Go after the animals instead of pointing fingers. June 15, 2011 1:34 PM

Anonymous said...

"Lets focus on the morons shooting the guns; not were there coming from. I don't care that there coming from the U.S central america. Go after the animals instead of pointing fingers"
I could say the same thing about drugs. LETS FOCUS ON THE MORONS CONSUMING THE DRUGS NOT WHERE THEYRE COMING FROM. GO AFTER THE ANIMAL CONSUMERS INSTEAD OF POINTING FINGERS.

Anonymous said...

In October 2010, ATF said many guns used by Mexican cartels are bought in the United States, with Arizona and Texas being major sources, but said they will no longer release estimates of how many because the numbers have become too politicized.

Too politicized? Right. Less than a year later, ATF gladly released new figures to Democrat Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse for political reasons!

Remember, the only guns which can be successfully traced have a U.S. origin, thus any ATF statistic showing a percentage of successful traces is absolute nonsense. Any statistic showing numbers of successful traces is further nonsense. Why? According to Colby Goodman in his latest report, ATF statistics include thousands of duplicate traces! Mexican authorities are submitting the same gun five or more times. Further, ATF includes all legitimate U.S. export sales in their statistics, such as legitimate military, police and commercial sales. In addition, ATF includes low-powered .22 rabbit rifles and hunting shotguns in their traces. All these factors combine to make the numbers and statistics meaningless.

Are some firearms coming from commercial straw sales in the United States? Certainly. And, despite past denials from ATF and DOJ, we now know with certainty, that thousands of straw sales (2500 at latest count) intended for Mexico, were specifically permitted, encouraged and facilitated by ATF under Operation Fast and Furious. Outrageous and tragic.....
No one knows for certain the actual percentage of where all the guns came from. Of course, that doesn't stop false and inflated numbers and percentages from being used for political purposes - especially by Democrat Senators Feinstein, Schumer and Whitehouse.

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