FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

The reality of Mexican drug cartel weapons sourcing

The Mexican army and police have seized 180,000 arms over the past three and a half years from organized-crime gangs, mainly drug cartels, including sophisticated, deadly weapons manufactured in South Africa…

 

A 40mm grenade launcher capable of firing up to six grenades in 30 seconds and a disposable projectile launcher are among the South African weapons seized recently from Mexican drug traffickers…

 

Other weapons being stored at the warehouse include AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles, different types of grenades – including Israeli-made grenades – and .50-caliber Barrett rifles capable of penetrating armor and downing helicopters at a distance of two kilometers (1.2 miles)…

….

[The] Fox figure of 17 percent is based on a misreading of some confusing House subcommittee testimony by ATF official William Newell. The Fox reporters come up with a figure of 5,114 guns traced to U.S. sources in fiscal 2007 and 2008. That figures to 17.6 percent of the 29,000 figure for guns seized in Mexico, as given by the country’s attorney general.

The 5,114 figure is simply wrong. What Newell said quite clearly is that the number of guns submitted to ATF in those two years was 11,055: “3,312 in FY 2007 [and] 7,743 in FY 2008.” Newell also testified, as other ATF officials have done, that 90 percent of the guns traced were determined to have come from the U.S…

Fox News reporters William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott note, quite correctly, that Mexico doesn’t submit all the guns it recovers to the U.S. for tracing. Furthermore, Fox News reported, this is “because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.” And it quoted a law enforcement official as to why:

Fox News, April 2: “Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

If that’s true, then the guns given to ATF for tracing constitute a badly biased sample of all crime guns seized in Mexico…

Given the bribery rife in Mexico, my assumption is that both criminal elements and corrupt politicians would prefer to mask the source, at best, of their weapons or, at least, distract the lay reader from ground truth.

“Many of these rural municipalities that may come into a gun seizure … may not even know anything about tracing guns,”… A police officer in Mexico submits a description, serial number and distinctive markings of the gun. The weapons are then turned over to the military for storage in one of a dozen armories such as the one in Mexico City.

 

When U.S. investigators need additional details, as they often do, the request goes back to the original police officer, who must retrieve the gun from a military vault — sometimes hundreds of miles away… Many mistakes are made because of difficulty translating technical terms about firearms…

 

Mexican police must ask permission each time they need to look at a stored gun… Even if that permission is granted, the investigator cannot go past the metal fencing separating a reception desk and the shelves holding the guns. A soldier has to bring out the requested weapons…

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