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

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Stopping The ‘Iron River’ Of Guns To Mexico

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Four main things cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally: drugs, undocumented immigrants, dirty money and guns. We hear all the time about the first two, and rarely about the last two.

The government of Mexico just gave us a much needed reminder of the gun issue by suing 10 American gun companies for knowingly and actively assisting the arming of drug cartels. The lawsuit was introduced in federal court in Massachusetts, and five of the companies it names are headquartered in New England, including Springfield’s Smith & Wesson.

We get bent out of shape about the families who cross into the United States illegally (thus committing a federal misdemeanor), but we’re not much bothered by the enormous number of weapons that Americans have illegally provided to the cartels’ sociopaths. No one is clamoring for a wall to be built on the border to protect Mexico from massive American criminality.

“We can never know the true scale of this traffic. But one study estimates more than two hundred thousand guns are trafficked over the border every year. This led to Mexican law enforcement in 2020 estimating that 2.5 million guns had been smuggled over the border in a decade,” writes Ioan Grillo, a Mexico-based journalist, in his 2021 book “Blood Gun Money.”

What’s more, according to the Mexicans, the American gun-makers intentionally design and market their product to appeal to the cartel killers. “Colt’s special edition .38 Super pistol is engraved with an image of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata on one side of the barrel and a phrase attributed to him on the other: ‘It is better to die standing than to live on your knees.’ One of those pistols was used in 2017 to assassinate the well-known investigative journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, who made it her life’s work to uncover corruption, drug trafficking rings, and human rights violations,” says the complaint filed by the Mexican government two weeks ago.

“Fun” fact: In the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, both Zapata’s peasant revolutionaries and the Mexican government forces were armed with American guns. The current “Drug War” is not America’s first foray into unbridled gun-running.

In his book, Grillo details the process by which guns fall off the map somewhere in America only to reapper in the hands of Mexican narco-traffickers. The first step is the purchasing of weapons by American citizens either at the virtually unregulated “gun shows” or from one of the more than 100,000 licensed gun sellers in the country. Then, the weapons are smuggled into Mexico, often in the same vehicles that had brought in drugs.

When the “straw buyer” (that is, the person who pretends to buy guns for themselves but then resells them or “loses” them) gets caught, they’re unlikely to go to prison because of low sentencing guidelines. And the gun manufacturers, the ones who make money from selling guns that spray an immense number of bullets in seconds, are protected by law against civil liability claims filed by victims of gun violence.

America has no federal law banning gun trafficking per se. But it does have a law prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or the FBI from establishing a centralized database of American guns, gun owners or gun transactions, which makes investigations into the origins of a gun used in a massacre extremely difficult.

How is this possible? We all know the answer: the Second Amendment, the NRA, the Republican Party, the American “gun culture.”

The “iron river” of American guns does not flow just to Mexico. It also flows to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where Texas-sold weapons victimize hundreds of thousands of families who abandon their homes and seek refuge in the U.S. It flows to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, where Florida-sold weapons decimate entire communities. And it flows to Colombia, where both government troops and rebel groups have long been totting American guns.

What would happen if Congress actually changed the law to allow for universal background checks, a national gun transaction registry, and a ban on assault-style weapons? Would cartels, gangs and guerillas stop terrorizing people and transforming them into desperate refugees?

“You could say, ‘Well, they’re going to get [the guns] anywhere,’ but I think the abundance of weapons matters. Every criminal in Mexico has an AK-47, an AR-15, and they’ve got an endless supply of bullets. Mexico has deep problems beyond the gun issue. There’s enormous corruption and a basic failure of law enforcement in Mexico,” Grillo told me in an phone interview.

“But they could get on top of this situation if it wasn’t for this huge iron river of guns. You see a negative feedback circle where the cops are outgunned by criminals, so the cops are easily subdued and intimidated and bought off by criminals. So the criminals get more powerful. But you could have a positive feedback circle, if the criminals had fewer guns and police were able to get the upper hand and then become less corrupt,” Grillo said.

We contribute mightily to the supply side of undocumented immigration when we flood Mexico and Central America with illegal guns and drug money. And we contribute mightily to the demand side when we maintain an economy that depends on the labor of undocumented immigrants. And then we turn around and innocently ask, “Why can’t these people stay in their own countries?”



  1. A one sided storyline to make the gun manufacturer look bad. Gun manufacturers did not force the straw buyers to buy guns and smuggle them to Mexico and sell them for double the price, gun manufacturers did not pull the trigger to kill people in Mexico it is the criminals. Also guns come from China, Russia , Brazil.
    Also why bother suing if the President and his government is doing nothing to lower the high homicides.
    A guy who has his head in the sand, recently said but Obrador had Army barracks built, but what good is that, when he does not use the Army to combat the heavy killings that go on.

    1. Applying your same logic the US drug epidemic is the fault of Americans buying coke and heroin in the streets and not of the criminal organizations manufaturing, exporting and distributing the product.
      Mexico and by extension Latin America won´t improve their security issues until the people like you realize that manufacturing and selling military-type weapons to civilians for private purposes is nothing more than facilitating an iron river towards the south

    2. I understand your concern but now days a HUGE amount of the weapons are coming from China too, so before you point the finger make sure you've got the right culprit. Also, I do blame American consumers for part of the problem. Both supply and the consumption are culpable. The guns are going south because of mostly criminal activity and the second these leftists take away our ability to get guns from the U.S. then China will step in and supply all instead of just half. If you doubt this, I'd like you to name one American gun maker who produces the AK-47 style rifle. That's not coming from here sooooo ??

    3. Interestingly enough Cody, most of the ak weapons seized in Mexico aren´t either Russian (47 variant) nor Chinese (Type 56 variant). In fact most AKs seized in Mexico are Romanian and produced by a manufacturer (Cugir) which has the USA as its main client (nearly 3/4 of its production is for USA civilian market) For not mentioning AK style guns which are produced by Cugir and distributed exclusively by American import companies such as Century Arms, which happens to be importing thousands of Mini Draco Pistols and other similar "civilian weapons" that are appearing by hundreds all over Latin America, conveniently modified for achieving military-type firing mechanisms.

    4. 11:13 with all due respect, your sounding more like all guns come from USA, China, Russia, Brazil make guns that come in to Mexico by other means, and recently, there is an article in here, that a load of weapons was headed to Mexico from Ecador, what do you say about that??????
      Lastly crime will always be happening in Mexico, should guns get stopped from USA, they would resort to knifes.

    5. Thanks for your reply 11:51. You must be refering to this event
      First of all, it involved the seizure of 9 tons of cocaine and a small haul of 10 weapons. I analyzed that haul three days ago through the available photos and of the 10 weapons 6 were AR15s (some modified), 1 AR9, 1 Romanian AKM and 1 Mini Draco AK47 pistol, both imported exclusively by Century Arms (which has an exclusive distribution contract in the Western hemisphere) and a Glock 17 with an Israeli RONI conversion kit making of it a submachine gun. Of 10 weapons you mentioned 9 were either produced or imported by US distributors. In conclussion, almost all the haul had US origin. Besides, it is very probable that the weapons were not headed towards Mexico. In fact, journals reported that they were used for protecting the haul on its way to the port

    6. Wow Red.@3:15
      You really took a magnifying glass on that Ecuador article, nothing surpasses you, you ought to work at LAX screening for guns and contraband. But I still say guns that are not USA manufactured make it into Mexico, yes with the larger percentage coming from USA. Will you agree with me?
      75 % USA
      25% Other countries.

    7. Yes, I´ll agree with you that non-US manufactured weapons do enter Mexico, even through non-USA borders. I won´t dare to guess any percentage though.But still, without USA weapons and pro-gun laws the imports would be much smaller,even if other sources increased

    8. All of the above:
      If you'd knew your pedorros the way you know your guns, the world could be different

    9. If Mexico is so worried about weapons coming in from America they'd better do a better job of screening vehicles entering through the Mexican border. It really comes down to we in the US have a Constitutional right to own and possess weapons like the AK's and AR's and Mexico doesn't, so it's Mexico's job to enforce their own law's and if they can't enforce their own laws then it's kind of tough shit on them. I'm not about to give up my rights because the corrupt Mexican government can't control their own border, I'm sure they're not staying awake at night thinking of way's to stop people from illegally entering the US so I'm not to worried about illegal weapons and ammunition entering Mexico, and remember a lot of those weapons are used by decent people to protect themselves from the cartels and it's to bad they don't rise up and take back their country from the elites who've stolen it.

    10. 4:27 you got excellent 👍 valid points. Thier not watching carefully what comes into Mexico, but quick to blame the gun manufacturer, as if they are selling them at a street corner like Tacos. But then again Mexican Customs would get BRIBES to let contraband/weapons to come into Mexico.

  2. Criminals get guns from anywhere even slingshots.

  3. So guns kill, 🔫 who pulls the Tigger. We have had gun control in Mexico for 100 years, looks like it don't work. Only the Criminals have guns. Control in Chicago doesn't work. Once again Criminals have the guns.

  4. Need to sue chainsaw manufacturers also

  5. Here goes SOL again blaming USA and USA gun manufacturers for the scum raping and killing in Mexico at an unprecedented level! Sol, my guess is ur against the 2nd amendment, and like cheater Biden think USA citizens only deserve a shotgun with two shells! It’s not my White American fault that Mexicans can’t be real gangsters. It’s pathetic the constant victim stance u constantly peddle on this site. Yeah it’s America’s fault, it’s the guns fault that Mexicans are committing genocide on their own people. Just like it’s white Americans fault that black s 17-35 commit over half the gun murders in USA. Yeah sol it all comes down to White Americans fault. I mean that’s what ur really saying without saying it. Your a liberal punk gun grabber who censors peoples comments and thinks everybody is the victim of white dominance.

    1. I’m pro war. Try again baby.

    2. Gun lovers, NRA and 2and Ammendment fans love nothing more than trafficking their weapons like street whores for the higher love of money, like Judases, cheap judases who have sold out to Bladdermir Putin...

  6. The lawsuit against the gun manufacturers will go no- where and is for the Mexican public's consumption to make them believe someone is doing something. Most Mexicans are sharper than that and know it's just BS. If the Mexican gov't really want's to effect change they would establish proper border controls and get a functioning judicial system that supports and defends their criminal investigators. However, since this is unlikely to happen, Mexico should allow its citizens to buy and train with guns and defend themselves from criminals.

  7. Obradors government is asking for the impossible, frivious lawsuit to gun manufacturers.
    In the same token Mexican government should be sued for letting the flow of drugs come in to USA, also for letting the Cartels manufacturer drugs, that kill many in USA, better yet hold the government of Obrador accountable for the overdose deaths.

  8. Maybe if they actually inspected at their border they would find illegal guns and money. Mexican customs sure do a good job stopping used clothes and tires.

    1. Agree with you obrador is concentrating on things that are not important. He does minimal to quell the violence, instead he lets it multiply. The Army is not being used, instead many citizens die everyday of homicides.


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