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New Study Points to Truth About Mexican Cartels' Guns

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Woodrow Wilson International Center, which previously accepted as fact that incredible numbers of newly purchased firearms were being smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico, has just released a report showing that the numbers have been incredibly exaggerated. The revelation shifts the blame for Mexico’s drug cartel problem away from America’s “lax” gun laws, and squarely in the direction of Mexican officials and Central American weapons smugglers.

According to the report, Mexican President Felipe Calderon "[S]aid Mexico had seized about 90,000 arms . . . . [B]ut ATF now reports that tens of thousands of the trace requests are duplicates. In some cases, ATF has received information on the same firearm up to five times as Mexican police, a crime lab, the military, and the Attorney General’s office all write down information on the same firearm, and the individual in the Attorney General’s office in Mexico City submits trace requests on all of them. Of the remaining firearms, the Mexican government has also failed to sometimes include basic information about the firearms such as the manufacture’s serial number or the import number on many [of] these firearms.”

Furthermore, “about 26 percent of Mexico’s trace requests to the U.S. government for FY 2009 were untraceable because of serial number errors” and “75 percent of the firearms ATF was able to trace to the first purchaser in the United States were purchased more than five years ago.”

While Pres. Calderon regularly blames America for Mexico’s problem, “ATF officials . . . have sought to physically inspect firearms at crime scenes or at Mexican military storage facilities, but have had limited success, mostly because Mexican officials or the Mexican Attorney General’s office prevented such access, due in part to national sensitivities and lack of trust.”

The report also corroborates previously revealed information that “U.S. military officials also report that more than 50 percent of the military-type arms such as mortars, hand grenades, and grenade launchers discovered in [cartel] caches have crossed into Mexico most recently from Central America.”

Nevertheless, the report recommends adoption of the BATFE’s proposal to require firearm dealers in the four southwestern U.S. states to file multiple sales reports on people who buy more than one detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifle in a caliber greater than .22, including .223. It also recommends joint BATFE/ICE investigations that are focused on smuggling offenses, increased penalties for straw purchasers and, without much explanation, higher quality license plate readers on highways out of the United States.

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