Aug. 5, 2013 Forbes
Mexican criminals use guns from the U.S. According to a report from Council on Foreign Relations Latin America analyst Julia Sweig, “The flow of high-powered weaponry from the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean exacerbates soaring rates of gun-related violence in the region and undermines U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.” In her report, Sweig argues, “U.S. civilian firearms market continues to supply the region’s transnational criminal networks with high-powered weaponry that is purchased with limited oversight, especially from unlicensed individuals at gun shows, flea markets, pawn shops, and on the Internet. Lax U.S. gun laws enable straw purchasers…to legally procure thousands of AK-47 and AR-15 variants every year and traffic them across the border to sell them illegally to criminal factions.”
In the last few weeks gun violence in Mexico has received heightened media attention as armed enforcers working for drug cartels attacked federal police convoys, assassinated a senior Navy official, and opened fire on a peaceful anti-violence protest. Mexico’s government has sent thousands of soldiers to patrol the hills of Michoacan where these attacks took place, but has been unable to stop criminal groups from arming themselves with guns purchased in the U.S.
According to a study by San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute, more than a quarter of a million weapons purchased in the United States are transported south across the border every year. The study, “The Way of the Gun: Estimating Firearms Traffic Across the U.S.-Mexico Border,” explains that the value of the annual smuggling trade is $127.2 million.