Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Los Zetas and the Gun Laws that Help Them Thrive

In the Wrong Hands: Los Zetas and the Gun Laws that Help Them Thrive

By: COHA Research Associate Devin Parsons
It is possible for terror to originate from a recognized symbol of power, safety, and strength. When a manifestation of all that is good betrays the trust bestowed upon it and becomes instead an agent of destruction, ruthlessness, and brutality, the fear it generates is far greater than if it had been regarded as evil all along.

Unfortunately, one of the ultimate examples of this form of deception thrives in the chaos of the drug world. In Mexico, this terror is known by a name rarely spoken above a chilling whisper: Los Zetas.

Emerging as one of the most dangerous byproducts of the drug trade, Los Zetas’ existence represents a profound threat to the U.S. as well as to their country of origin.

Not only does the U.S. keep Los Zetas in business with its insatiable appetite for drugs, but it also blindly puts guns in the hands of these killers. Since 2006, 28,000 individuals have lost their lives to this hemispheric catastrophe, a huge jump from the 23,000 reported in June of this year.

With such an astronomically increasing death toll, drastic action needs be taken – and fast. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has taken the recent step of proposing a debate to consider the pros and cons of drug legalization.

As for the U.S., it is critical that it finally takes responsibility for its role as a gun supplier to the drug trafficking industry. Of the tens thousands who have died at the hands of drug violence, many of these victims’ last visions were of a U.S.-made or U.S.-imported semi-automatic assault rifle.

The Dark Side

“Imagine a band of U.S. Green Berets going rogue and offering their services and firepower to drug cartels,” writes CNN’s Michael Ware, offering an accurate comparison to the manner in which Los Zetas formed. The original Zeta members began as a segment of the Mexican Army’s special operations’ unit called el Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE).

Like the U.S. Army Special Forces, GAFE personnel are rigorously trained by international experts in all the highly specialized areas of military tactics. In recent years, their objective has been to mobilize against the country’s extensive Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). Now, however, many of them have switched sides.

It all started in the late 1990s, when Osiel Cardenas Guillen, leader of the expansive and powerful Gulf Cartel, acquired the partnership of GAFE Lieutenant Arturo Guzman Decenas. Guzman was soon joined by thirty other GAFE deserters, all of whom were enticed by the lucrative potential of the drug market. The ex-GAFE members branded themselves Los Zetas after the radio code “Z” assigned to high-level officials in the Mexican Army.

As the enforcement branch of the Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas engaged in the activities of collecting debt, obtaining cocaine supply, protecting trafficking routes known as plazas, monitoring cartel loyalty, and, most notably, performing executions. After the death of Guzman in 2002 and the arrest of Cardenas in 2003, the top leadership post of Los Zetas was seized by former GAFE member Heriberto “El Lazca” Lazcano. El Lazca remains in power to this day.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA):

The [Gulf] Cartel is known among their rivals for their extreme violence. This reputation is owed to a group of Mexican military deserters known as “Los Zetas” who oversee the Cartel as vicious enforcers who have kidnapped, tortured, and murdered—including beheadings—of law enforcement officials, innocent citizens, informants, and rival drug gangs.

This statement, made in the context of announcing the ten most wanted DTO leaders in the country, was released over a year ago on July 23, 2009. At the time, Los Zetas had already become the ultimate symbol of drug violence, but today, it embodies this terror to an even greater extent.

No longer are Los Zetas simply an arm of the vast Gulf Cartel; they have consolidated their power to become their own force, perhaps the most ruthless organization of the drug trade ever to have evolved. No longer are their activities restricted to areas south of the border, as extensive Zeta networks are beginning to develope throughout Texas and major cities across the United States.

Los Zetas have hired U.S.-based gangs, including the Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, MS-13, and Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos, to continue their command of the drug routes that extend far beyond the border. Finally, no longer do Los Zetas stick to drug enforcement activities.

Now, as noted by Foreign Policy Research Institute scholar George Grayson, its members practice enterprises such as murder-for-hire, contract killings, extortion, money laundering, and human smuggling. Unless they are confronted with a direct, coordinated effort to undercut their strategies, Los Zetas are quickly becoming an unstoppable force.

Lethal Weapons in Well-Trained Hands

“AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15 assault rifles, MP5s submachine guns, 50 mm machine guns, grenade launchers, ground-to-air missiles, dynamite, bazookas, and helicopters,” lists Grayson in his description of the weapons affiliated with Los Zetas’ activities.

From the members known as Los Halcones (The Hawks) who watch over the plazas to the masterminds of La Dirección (The Command) who often carry out kidnappings and executions, a well-stocked arsenal is crucial for Zeta success. In fact, an entire subset of the organization is called Los Mañosos (The Crafty Ones), whose basic goal is to obtain weapons and ammunition to support all of Los Zetas’ illiegal practices.

Because Los Zetas have, for the most part, effectively maintained control over Mexico’s east coast, an area previously supervised by the much older Gulf Cartel, one can conclude that the objective of Los Mañosos has been met with significant success.

Yet the quantity of semi-automatics and other military-style weapons accumulated by Los Zetas, especially in the context of a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws in the hemisphere, introduces a startling conundrum as to where Los Zetas acquired their firearms. One does not have to look far for an answer – in fact, it lies only a few miles north.

Although Mexican citizens have a right to bear arms “for their protection and legitimate defense,” Article 10 of Mexico’s Constitution also explicitly states that “Federal law will determine the cases, conditions, requisites and places inhabitants will be authorized to carry arms.” Thus, the Federal Firearms and Explosives Law, overseen by the Secretary of National Defense, has extensive power over which types of weapons reach the hands of citizens.

In reference to assault weapons, Bernard Thompson, a columnist for the consulting firm notes that “individual permits for honest citizens are in effect impossible to obtain.” The process for owning such a firearm, he explains, involves registering with the military, notifying the Interior Secretariat, and overcoming purposely placed roadblocks to procuring carrying licenses and ammunition. In short, accumulating a stash of weaponry from Mexican sources is extremely challenging and therefore especially unattractive when one considers the options available on the other side of the border.

Sadly, the United States, with its polarized political climate and wealthy gun lobbies, such as the powerful National Rifle Association, makes so many concessions in the name of protecting its citizens’ right to bear arms that guns are flowing almost effortlessly into the hands of criminals. Between the years 2004 and 2008, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted a detailed tracing process using a significant portion of the 23,000 firearms recovered by Mexican Authorities.

They found that a startling 87% percent of the arms originated in the United States. Moreover, between the years 2006 and 2008, this figure increased to 90%. To break this data down further, 70% of the weapons came from the states of Texas, California, and Arizona: 39%, 20%, and 10% respectively.

Due to the fact that most of these arms originate in the United States, it is clear that a lack of federal gun regulation is indirectly fueling the gruesome activities of illegal DTOs such as Los Zetas.

Michael Isikoff of Newsweek’s investigative blog Declassified reports that recently, “the Mexican military has discovered a major training camp run by the notorious Zetas drug cartel and stocked with an arsenal of military weapons, including 140 semi-automatic assault rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammunition—all of them believed to be purchased in the United States.”

Additionally, the Mexican government has projected that approximately 2,000 guns cross the border daily. Unless the U.S. starts taking a closer look directly at the issue of arms trafficking and its implications, DTOs will continue to take advantage of lax regulations.

Flaws in the Gun Laws

The design of current U.S. gun law regulation comes mostly from the text of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) and its 1993 amendment, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. According to the law, arms dealers must become accredited as federal firearms licensees (FFLs) who are subject to inspections by the ATF.

Furthermore, background checks are required for non-licensed costumers of the FFLs, which deny criminals, those involved in court procedures, illegal immigrants, and those with mental disabilities the ability to buy a firearm.

Although federal law states that purchases of more than one handgun within five business days must be reported to the Attorney General, it also prohibits the formation of a registry of firearm owners, leading to the practice of destroying records within twenty days.

Needless to say, most of these stipulations are easy to manipulate or simply avoid altogether. Perhaps the greatest flaw of the GCA is that it does not address the issue of private gun sales between two unlicensed owners. In states that do not supplement the federal law with local or state-wide restrictions, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, such exchanges are perfectly legal.

This plays easily into a tactic used by many firearm traffickers known as straw purchasing and ant running. During a straw purchase, an ineligible candidate for gun ownership directs an ostensibly eligible individual to purchase the gun in his stead.

Then, the transaction between the two parties occurs undetected as one of many private firearms deals that are out of the reach of government regulation. When the trafficker acquires one or two of his desired arms, he is then able to smuggle them across the border and, if caught, claim the guns as private property. This is called “ant running” because when several different DTO members successfully bring these small loads across the border, the arsenal begins to build piece-by-piece.

These obvious flaws are also exacerbated by the elimination of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in effect from 1994 to 2004. This ban prohibited civilians from purchasing semiautomatic firearms, including Zeta favorites: AK-47s, AR-15s , and other weapons able to accept a detachable magazine.

These firearms were designed by and for the military during World War II in an effort to create a lighter gun for rapid fire in situations of heavy warfare. They have absolutely no business in the hands of ordinary civilians, and are in fact endangering citizens’ lives as they enter into the possession of Los Zetas, who wield such weapons with the deadly military precision in which they were trained.

Looking Toward the Future

“Law enforcement authorities in both nations are confronting the Southwest border paradigm: drugs and illegal migrants flow north, guns and money flow south,” notes a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on gun trafficking on the southwest border.

“Although firearms trafficking is not the only reason violent crime is increasing in Mexico, reducing the flow of illegal firearms from the United States to Mexico would arguably reduce crime rates in Mexico and improve public safety.” Thus, while the monumental challenges of eradicating the drug trafficking enterprises between the U.S. and Mexico require a multi-dimensional approach, it can begin with the relatively straightforward issue of gun control.

Helpful measures would include the following: reducing the restrictions on record-keeping for arms sales, creating a system of running background checks for private gun exchanges, and reinstating a version of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Additionally, the U.S. should take a more direct approach to apprehend drug traffickers.

As it stands, those caught with guns while crossing into Mexico only receive a general smuggling charge, which fails to recognize the greater transgression. Meanwhile, the United States should consider ratifying the Organization of American States Convention on Illicit Firearms Trafficking (CIFTA). Twenty-nine countries have adopted the document, while only four, including the U.S., have not.

CIFTA calls for the creation of licenses for exporting, importing, and transporting firearms, the marking of firearms for tracking purposes, the sharing of information and records between concerned nations, and the strengthening of weapon controls at border crossing sites.

Yes, the United States will always value its constitutional right to bear arms, as made irrefutably clear by the recent Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago. Gun advocates are so bent on preserving a constitutional right, erroneously perceived as under threat, that any steps taken by the federal government in the name of general safety result in immediate and extreme reactions from conservatives.

In their zeal turned belligerence in reducing gun control initiatives, conservative politicians and their constituents fail to extrapolate upon the consequences that will arise from such unfounded adamancy. Such antagonism is literally costing the lives of thousands as poor gun regulation in the United States enables the barbarous acts of the ruthless Zetas and their DTO counterparts that are tearing Mexico apart.


  1. This report is extremely inaccurate as it manipulates the statistics. You quoted that 87% of the guns were from the U.S. TO BE FACTUAL - that % might be correct of THE IDENTIFIABLE GUNS. If you want to be accurate, include the % of those that CANNOT be traced. So if you can only trace 20% (not sure of the exact # today, but I know it's small, but I'll be generous for the analysis) of the weapons recovered, and out of the 20% only 80% of the 20% were traceable back to the U.S. Do the math..... Let me help. 100 guns, 20% identifiable = 20 guns ID'd. 87% of the 20 guns = 17.4 guns. And you are implying that the U.S. is the problem? Try looking at the 80% that can't be ID'd. DUH

    Yes, we have a consitution that gives us rights to have arms. I take offence that you would reference "NRA" and Gun Lobby". No, we will not give up our rights. And no, we are not the problem. Try looking at the cartels who are connected with other countries that hate the U.S. and have direct routes into Mexico with weapons.

    And as a side note: Newsweek reference takes away all credibility. No one with a brain in the U.S. has bought into their BS for a long time. I'm so disappointed that Borderland would even post this type of article. It is NOT factual, and what we need in these times are facts, not an editorial from a non news source that clearly has an objective. And I will check out COHA (Council On Hemispheric Affairs - what the heck is this and who is funding this group?) Here's their website in case anyone wants to help. Not sure, but this article was sure slanted.

  2. Legalization of drugs in Mexico will not solve the problem of violence and crime of Mexican Drug cartels. It is true that internal consumption of drugs in Mexico has exploded in recent years but main market continues to be the United States. That is why the majority of violence happens in border cities and the routes leading to those northern border cities from Mexico’s southern border.
    Let’s not forget that some cartels diversified their criminal activities. Extortions to legitimate business person, permission (piso) to work to swap meet vendors, taco stands and many more that are not wealthy. Also kidnapping continues to be another source of income for them. Controlling the commercialization piracy from DVDs CDs clothes and anything that can be made cheaper that the original products. The control of human smuggling industry to the United States, the illegal commercialization of petroleum products (gasoline) and many more.
    Cartels have become the ultimate threat to the National Security of Mexico. Cartels have lost their core values ethics and respect for lives of innocent man, women and children by employing thousands of ever growing sicarios to kill torture and mutilate anyone that interferes with their business. There is no excuse for this type of violence.
    I could go on and on, but an immediate solution to this complex problem is near impossible. It’s a problem that will take years to be controlled.
    Mexico would have to make many reforms to eliminate or minimize corruption, and to create a more efficient criminal justice system that will create a real trust from society. Involve society, educational system and why not the cartel bosses them selves by creating rules and consequence to those who violate their orders

  3. I'm sorry BB but I have to disagree with Op-Ed piece here. U.S. citizens have a right to legally possess firearms, its one of the staples of our constitution and a big reason we've have had the closest thing to a free and fair government.

    To be honest I think Mexican citizens should be pressing for changes to their constitution to make gun ownership more obtainable for the average Mex citizen. How does the old saying go?

    "An Armed society is a polite one.:

    1. Guns give people swagger, and swagger makes them vicious.

      -A book who's name I can't remember.

      Unfortunately, we have a lot of people who think no one around them will ever have a gun. Even if people all have guns, the cocky people will still try to pull. Cheers for being rather polite in your comments though.

  4. As another poster suggested, I did a little research on COHA.

    After looking at their website, reading the Bios of their contributors, and reading some of the other "studies" they have published, I think the organization is best summed up in this excerpt from their Wiki page:

    "The Boston Globe described Birns as a lobbyist and a liberal critic of U.S. policy, [1] and The New York Times said the Council on Hemispheric Affairs was a liberal research group specializing in United States-Latin America relations,[2] and an organization critical of Reagan Administration policy in Latin America.[3]

    'Nuff Said

  5. This entire post is nothing more than propaganda.

    The quotes and pictures included give lie to the propaganda in the story.

    “AK-47 assault rifles, AR-15 assault rifles, MP5s submachine guns, 50 mm machine guns, grenade launchers, ground-to-air missiles, dynamite, bazookas, and helicopters,” lists Grayson in his description of the weapons affiliated with Los Zetas’ activities.

    The inconvenient truth is that fully automatic assault rifles, grenade launchers, air to ground missiles, dynamite, bazookas and helicopters are NOT readily available from American gun shops and gun shows.

    So, you're saying, in spite of the fact that the drug cartels have access to machine guns, missiles, explosives, grenades and even helicopters...that the semi-automatic rifles that are functionally identical (one shot with one pull of the trigger) to the semi-automatic hunting rifles that have been in use for over 100 years readily available in the US is what is causing all the mayhem down there?

    It seems that you have been imbibing a bit too much in the wares offered for sale by the cartels.

    This is nothing more than an effort to pass the blame for Mexico's corrupt, ineffective government off onto the US and, at the same time, forward the parallel agenda of civilian disarmament in the US.

  6. Hmmm, why should the US citizens take ANY responsibility for the acts of adults in other countries?

    What I always find amazing for those advocating 'gun control' is their inate ability to refuse to accept reality...

    Over the last thirty five years I've been to several many countries that have draconian firearms laws...

    In some countries the laws are so draconian that even possessing a firearm is tantamount to a death sentence handed down by the state's judicial system...

    Guess what?

    Criminals still have guns and law abiding people are still sheep being lead to the slaughter...

    This is on this planet at least a universal result of silly people passing silly laws...

    Have you ever noticed where the mass shootings tend to happen in the US of A?

    There always seems to be a 'no firearms' sign in these sites of slaughter...

    I mean how often does one hear of a gun shop being held up and the clerks and customers shot?

  7. Here is an interesting link with photos of confiscated weapons in Mexico:

    In no way do I think ALL of the cartel weapons are coming from the U.S. (after all, these guys have enough money to get what they want, when they want it, and from where they want it no questions asked), it IS an issue which must be addressed.

    Recently President Calderon was quoted stating more than 85,000 traceable (this only represents less than 30% of all confiscated weapons) weapons have been confiscated: more than 50,000 of these weapons were AK-47 and AR-15, as well as dozens of Barret .50 Calibers.

    This figure does not include the over 6,000 grenades, etc, etc.

    Reports have shown, as anonymous quoted, roughly 17-20% of these traceable weapons have been traced back to the U.S...The problem is we are not talking about 100 or 200 traceable, identified weapons as anonymous exampled. We are talking tens of thousands at least.

    Mexican cartels are said to receive alot of weapons from China and European blocks as well as U.S. made weapons(grenades) which were sent as aid to South America in the 80's ..

    Personally, I don't think the blame game is worth a damn. Even the exact amount of weapons entering from the United States is irrelevant, the fact is there ARE weapons being smuggled in and actions need to be taken for the well being of both countries. Period.

    U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms and it works. The common U.S. citizen is not buying or selling .50 calibers, etc...The same as illegal drugs and every other black market item, supply will meet demand. What needs to be investigated is the U.S. black market (as well as Mexico's southern border.)

    We have a serious bi-nacional problem which can only be resolved by both countries working together.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. If you had spent just ONE day, or even ONE moment anywhere near MEXICO'S narco/political problems you would know the truth. Alot of folks on the BB remember, like I do, that when we were younger and wanted to go hunting on our family's land, where the Remingtons, Mossburgs, Winchesters etc etc would come from. OUR FATHERS WOULD SMUGGLE THEM AFTER A TRIP TO WAL-MART.

    So why would it be any different for these cartel fucks after a trip to a gun show anywhere in a Borderland state?

    This article is ... generally weak... full of outdated information, half-truths and kind of out of place for people who are generally more informed about the day-to-day happenings, like we are on the BB. It doesn't enhance The Counsel's image in my mind.

    Regardless of that, this fight is not for your convenience. Get a life. Like I've previously mentioned on another post, guns are nothing more than yours and my fucking hobby; the macro picture in Mexico is that these are mine and my family's lives that are being affected. The stats' accuracy is not significant in the face of prima-facia evidence; so who gives a fuck about 17.4 samples?

    When these dogs can get steel encased 7.62 ball in bulk in Matamoros, Reynosa, Piedras, Juarez, and Tijuana are you contending they are manufactured in Mexico? Reloaded here? Or that they are smuggled in from Russia or China? What? That the US's 2nd Amendment is not to blame for them getting NATO ammo? What? What? What is the winning argument you're putting forward? That the data isn't deep enough to warrant taking seriously...that its a liberal media conspiracy...that the people that wrote the article are propeller heads and just don't enjoy your hobby...The arguments are not new...

    I get your stand on the 2nd amendment, and that's all well and good. Go out this coming weekend and shoot up shit in some backwoods behind the shed in the back of the house and enjoy your 2nd Amendment. However, although this is an open forum, your argument's choir might be more easily found on the Shotgun News forum.

    These MFers are not after Rabbit or soda cans.

    Por el Ejido El Refugio en

    I posted as quickly as I could before going to work, so, if I fucked up a sentence or two... go easy on me. I'll TRY to never check out the BB before work again. late.

  10. That is exactly my arguement AR...The percent of weapons coming from the U.S. is irrelevant. What matters is THERE ARE WEAPONS COMING FROM THE U.S...PERIOD( and they aren't .22's for hunting squirrels and shooting cans.)

  11. Where do we go from here? I love the fact that the atrocities that are being committed across the border will never be confronted without bi national cooperation. All this bickering and people are still dying. Drugs are still flooding the streets of the US, and the cartels are growing more powerful.

  12. NY Times, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Obama, the radical left, the radical right; I ignore the bullshit from the aforementioned as they work with a fixed agenda. 90%=BS-17%=BS...they are illogical stats. I researched and found the non-partisan figure is apx 37%..y que? what does it matter? I do not own a gun because I realize I am not good with weapons, I am shit in a stressful situation, an intruder was breaking into my home, my daughter sleeping I reached for the pepper spray called 911, alarms blaring...inadvertantly sprayed myself and had a reaction and when the cops came they called 911 I was in the hospital 2 days, very funny, but confirmed I should not have a gun. But I will die to the death for the rights of law Abiding US citizens to have a gun. It is not the gun that is the culprit it is the filmsy laws that exist in many places. Weapons should not be a carry out anywhere, nor an online purchase without a comprehensive background check..tougher laws is needed, but even with those bad people will attain weapons no matter what..
    Bottom line...Abuela says we should not get sidetracked with these arguments and stay on track..lets compromise and say the % is 50% from US...and now what? We can do better, and Mexico can do better preventing weapons getting across. I go across sometimes 5 times a day, US has only stop me 2 times on the last year just to ask what my buisness is in Mx, Mx POE stops me just about never. Once I was bringing in school uniforms for disbled students, even though I handed them my credentials the Mx POE said I must be an importer and confiscated my new vehicle and wanted 13K USD, no matter my creditials they would not budge until I group of parents, professors, even the first lady of the area began protesting at the office and I called DF and the aduana gave me everything back. Seems he did not know about the US/MX treaty regarding 501c3 orgs. So is the lack of bad behavior of humans the fault of the weapons? Here is a link I posted a while back on BB about the true % for those who care about those things...

  13. CULPA; when items gain illegal entry to the matter drugs whatever I do not blame the country of origin I blame MY country for not being effective in doing their should be the same in Mexico and every other country. Essentially it is their duty, not ours. Think about it, we always blame ourselves for the inadequacy. Caleron is like Obama always pointing the finger away..

  14. I don't buy this story about gun running from the US. If those guns were purchased in the USA, the transaction is fully traceable back to the original purchasers via the ATF form you have to fill out. So who's buying 2000 guns per day and smuggling them across the border? The Obama run ATF would love to make a big show of arresting evil gun runners. The truth is, nobody would buy an M-16 for 8x the cost of an AK-47. Sooooo many cheap AK-47s coming out of Soviet bloc countries and China. I'll bet those M-16 are stolen from the Mexican Army.

  15. "When these dogs can get steel encased 7.62 ball in bulk in Matamoros, Reynosa, Piedras, Juarez, and Tijuana are you contending they are manufactured in Mexico? Reloaded here? Or that they are smuggled in from Russia or China? What?"

    That's an excellent question. What are YOU saying? That the cartels are pulling up to American gun shows and gun shops with flatbed trailers and forklifts to buy ammo by the pallet load?

    And no one notices? Or bothers to call the ATF?

    You want to know where this military ammunition (along with those Barret .50 cal rifles, fully auto M-16's, M-60 machine guns, 40mm grenades etc) are coming from?

    Look to your own corrupt government my friend.

    It's said that a people only get the government that they deserve. I, as a US citizen, refuse to accept responsibility for your failings.

    There is a simple solution to the problem of guns being smuggled North into Mexico...seal off the borders from illegal traffic.

    But Mexico won't do it and vigorously opposes any effort by the US to do it because that would also shut down the routes for Mexico's two most profitable exports: Drugs and Illegal Aliens.

    Shutting down the illegal border crossing routes would cause Mexico's economy to collapse virtually overnight. So, it's easier just to blame the bad ol' USA for their problems and accept that the violence and death is just one of the costs of "business as usual".

  16. Poor Mexico another victim of that nasty U.S.. What in the hell is up with journalists there is and has been an absolute obcession with bashing America. For a fact the U.S. is not perfect but travel the world taste other political systems, then you can understand why there is such pressure for people to immigrate to U.S.. As for guns look at the world every country where guns are a no no only criminals have them, where does this leave the citizen ? Just call 911, right. I love liberal politics they have a new law and beauracricy for every problem boy are they proving it these days. What we all need is less law more personal freedom ,more personal accountability, whether its guns drugs etc . Even in Mexico I believe the public should be allowed to own guns and protect themselves, I hate going to Mexico unarmed.

  17. Why do the drug cartels need guns all they have to do is call the local police to kill whoever they choose.

  18. As a Texan who works in the gun industry, I can tell you the only people buying ar 15's in my area, are citizens scared of Obama and the cartel criminals! I doubt the 65yo rancher who is buying a gun like that (usually they only had a huntin gun before) just to sell it back to the very folks terrorizing him on his land. BTW, ATF sends a tracing request all the way from manufacturer, distributor, retailer to customer. Last year EVERY trace I saw ended up being sold to a female with a hispanic name. Like the 2 glocks one girl purchased (supposedly for her 2 brothers birthdays) that ended up being used in an assasination in Mexico....Hmmmmm
    Kinda makes you go hmmmmmmm......

    This article is full of crap. We gave them the guns and grenades in th 80's, I also helped train these fuchs, following a lawful order from the Defense Dept........

  19. Let's talk facts a moment. Guns do cross the border. Depending on location, between 8 percent and 17 percent can be traced to a US buyer. But MOST of those guns were stolen before they went to Mexico.

    On the other hand, Borderland Beat has published numerous photos of weapons Americans cannot buy. Often, those selective fire weapons are stacked like cordwood. Those did not come from Los Estados. Those came from factories in China or Pakistan. Along with ammunition, with bayonets, and with military accessories.

    Credible rumor has it the price of an AK at the factory is 350 Yaun, or just over $50 USD. Those are the weapons that cause such great grief in Mexico. Since there are few routes from Shanghai to Mexico, stopping that trade is Mexico's problem.

    The guns that come as smugglers backhaul are a much lesser problem. One that could and should be stopped - by enforcing laws already on the books.

  20. In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.

    But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

    In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

    So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:

    -- The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

    -- Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.

    - South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.

    -- Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.

    -- The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.

    -- Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America's cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

    'These Don't Come From El Paso'

    Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered "assault rifles" that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.

  21. So close the blasted border to the US!
    See if those guns still come across.
    I am betting they still make their way into your country.

  22. I lived in Guatemala for two years. In the western highlands near the Mexican border. I can assure you that the cartels can get all of the guns they want, of any type or caliber, from Guatemala. In fact, despite the published statistics, the majority of guns smuggled into Mexico are from Guatemala. Corrupt police and military on both sides make it relativly simple.The cartels are heavily invested in Guatemala. Huge ranches,drugs, etc. The murder rate in Guatemala is twice that of Mexico but does not get the publicity that Mexico receives because it does not border the U.S.

  23. How disappointing!!!! I really thought this article would maybe challenge the gun laws in Mexico!!!! Silly me. OK. I can understand blaming the US for the "insatiable appetite for drugs" part. We want stuff that is bad for you and can kill you. However, the ", but it also blindly puts guns in the hands of these killers" part? I don't get it. I mean no blame for narcos selling bad things to us and no blame on the narcos for wanting to buy bad things from us. Poor little Mexicans are our servants? Running to bring us our drugs and forced to buy guns in return??? Now the good readers of BB inform me we don't really even supply all the guns to them? Que Malo!!! I think all Narcos should be required to only get their guns from us!! Why are we missing out on all that money? We have drug gangs in US, why don't they set up road blocks on major highways? Do you think our criminals are more polite then Narcos? Our police, judges and politicians are corrupt. Why don't we have the same results that Mexico has? The same putos who rape and pillage in Mexico are reduced to crying hotos here in the US. Why? What really keeps the US criminals in check? I think it's because i don't carry a machete in my car. I don't have only tortillas to throw at them when they try to come into my home. I have access to the same weapons they have and my fellow Americans have my back.

  24. This whole thing is like Capone's Chicago, except for the product.

    The guns are all traceable. If they really were coming from the US, in the
    NY Times, they would list them in one column and the origin in the adjacent column and publish it in the NY Times.

    There are elements south of Mexico that only care for themselves and hate the US.
    Helping to destabilize Mexico is a win win for them.

  25. Let me make sure I have this straight.

    It's the fault of the U.S. that Mexico is becoming a failed state because we buy their drugs.

    It's also the U.S. causing all the murder and violence in Mexico because they buy our guns.

    So Mexico is the victim of the U.S. I guess the corruption in the Mexican govt.,police and army which has been rampant as long as I can remember,I'm 67, is also our fault. Along with poverty,white slavery,disgusting treatment of women and corruption in all facets of business and even education of their children.

    Maybe we should just do away with the border and let the Mexican disease flood accross America and then we would all be even.

    Fat chance!!

    People do get the government they deserve.

  26. So Calderon is considering legalization of drugs? Why not legalize firearms for private ownership?

    I cannot help but wonder what Mexico would be like if firearms were legal for private ownership.

    Perhaps the greater fear is arming a populace who may not suffer tyranny in silence; neither from criminals on the street nor criminals in political office.

  27. I have a novel idea! How about the entire border gets a wall and troops to guard it. We have a god given right in the USA. The right to firearms and self defense. I think Mexico should allow all law abiding citizens an AK just like they get in Iraq. When the citizens can fight back maybe things would settle down. The government of course would not allow that in Mexico. The citizens might descide to takle back their government.

    The UN and their stupid arms treaty can fuck off and die!

  28. The only reason Mexico does not allow their citizens to have guns is the governments fear of revolution. It has always been that way.

  29. Hemorrhoids?
    Take a Bushmaster and call me in the morning.

    A custom M1911 to play with will take care of that.

    No Worries...It'll clear right up after a trip to the range.

    Athlete's Foot?
    Isn't that what an M4 is for?

    If there is anything that we can be sure of it is that any attempt at a serious conversation about any real political problem, of economics, of life, of death or even if the conversation is about its about Math...or whatever, some idiot will come up with a reason why a gun is the solution to the problem.

    Do you realize that your arguments are that our beloved society really only functions because of YOUR constant threats of death and violent coercion on our politicians? The argument continues by wanting to make the gun the magical elixir to all that ails all societies. The solution is not economic vitality, not education, not an adequate justice and correctional system, not adequate health care, not even religion. Its really all just about the gun.

    You are delusional.


  30. be honest guys criminals whether they work for law enforcement agencies or are regular citizens are taking advantage of the gun laws we have here in the US.
    I do not want to lose my rights to own guns and ammo but its going to take smarter men than me to figure out how to keep men of dubious moral character from exploiting our generous gun laws.

  31. "Mexican citizens have a right to bear arms" is a damn lie. Borderlan Beat is better than this. C'mon guys--knock off the BS.

  32. I am appalled by the political bias and ignorance exhibited by the writer of this article. You seem to think that we can just make all of these guns illegal in the US and that would somehow stop the cartels from acquiring them. Just like the high penalty drug laws have stopped anyone from acquiring Drugs? Right? You could ban the guns all you want. By the very definition of a criminal they break laws. Even the ones that are suppose to prevent them from acquiring something. Think about it! You listed the following items that the cartels have already acquired: “MP5s submachine guns, 50 mm machine guns, grenade launchers, ground-to-air missiles, dynamite, bazookas”. All of these weapons are already highly illegal in the US. In fact they carry extremely long prison terms for manufacturing, possessing, transferring or transporting them. The only exceptions would be for the few heavily monitored military and law enforcement suppliers or the small groups of wealthy people that can afford to go through the ATF’s process for purchasing a pre-ban NFA weapon such as the MP5. But then the firearm had to be manufactured and registered before the manufacturing ban in 1986. Again, heavily regulated and monitored with severe penalties for any violations. If these laws did not prevent the cartels from acquiring those weapons what makes you think similar laws would prevent them from acquiring semi-auto AK47 or AR-15? The only thing that new gun regulations or bans would accomplish would be the further infringement on our individual rights and freedoms. The criminals would continue to be criminals and would still acquire the items they seek just like drug users still locate the drugs they seek.


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