As TTAG reported, the Mexican government has retained the services of an American law firm (Reid Collins & Tsai). The plan: sue U.S. gunmakers for “allowing” their weapons to find their way into the hands of Mexican drug lords. What’s up with that? American law forbids any such legal action: the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005. Even so, I would dearly love RC&T to file a lawsuit against American gunmakers. The resulting revelations would provide enough grist for TTAG’s mill to make a thousand metaphorical tortillas. Or something like that. Or something like this . . .
Truth be told, American gunmakers are supplying the drug cartels. Tens of thousands of weapons—including grenades, rocket launchers and machine guns—have “migrated” from official U.S. customers to the drug cartels. How many weapons? Unknown. How much is the trade worth? Check this little news McNugget from our good friends over at narcosphere.narconews.com.
The dollar value of U.S. private-sector weapons shipments to Mexico in fiscal year 2009 exceeded the value of private arms shipments to two other major conflict regions elsewhere in the world, Iraq and Afghanistan, and even outpaced the value of arms shipped to one of the United States’ staunchest allies, Israel.
U.S. private-sector suppliers shipped a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives — to Mexico in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30 of that year.
By comparison, over the same period, private arms companies in the U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126 million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.
Now you could say that the Mexican government needs the firepower to fight the drug cartels. Or you could bless the idea generally ’cause Mexico’s a democracy (in theory) and we’re a democracy and we sell arms to democracies to protect democracy (and make some money for our homies). Or . . .
You could wonder how much of this arsenal ends up with the bad guys, who now control entire regions of Mexico. Hmmm.
Narco News reported in March 2009 that the deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports authorized under programs such as DCS.
Between 2005 and 2009, nearly $60 billion worth of U.S. defense articles were exported globally by U.S. private companies via the DCS program, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
In addition to the $177 million in defense hardware shipped by private U.S. companies to Mexico in fiscal 2009, some $204 million in arms were shipped to Mexico in fiscal year 2008, according to DCS data compiled by the State Department.
Smoking gun much? Here’s the funny part: either side of a lawsuit could use these facts to attack the other. WE are not selling arms to the cartels. YOU are. Ah, but here’s proof that YOU knew about it.
Lest we forget, Heckler & Koch stopped selling machine guns to the Mexicans when the “seepage” became way too obvious to maintain plausible deniability. Oh, and just to throw an American name out there: Bushmaster.
TTAG sources south of the border tells us that certain Mexican cartels favor Bushmaster ARs. Bushmaster is part of The Freedom Group, assembled by Cerberus Capital Management, whose chairman (John Snow) was President Bush’s Second Treasury Secretary.
Cerberus also owns Cobb Manufacturing (50 cal), DPMS Panther (military rifles) and Advanced Armament Corporation (suppressors). Oh, and DynCorp International, a security/defense contractor that sucked $2 billion from Uncle Sugar last year, for (amongst other things) performing private contract drug enforcement for South American countries.
You want to take them on? Good luck with that. When it comes to court battles, the U.S. industrial military complex is not without experience, guile, connections and financial resources. I’d be very surprised if the big players would pay RC&T to go away. And the little guys really are little; it would hardly be worth their while.
No matter who’d end up in the dock, a lawsuit against an American gunmaker for supplying the cartels with weapons could get plenty hinky. As TTAG reported previously, there’s talk on the street that the Mexican government has been favoring the Sinaloa cartel over the other criminal enterprises (e.g., the deadly and highly organized paramilitary Zetas). And Uncle Sam knew about it.
If Mexico accuses American gunmakers of knowing that their weapons would end up in criminal hands, the Yankees could turn around and say WELL SO DID YOU. Oh look, here’s an inventory of all the guns you confiscated from the cartels and huh, look at that! Ninety percent of them came from the Mexican military. How did THAT happen?
Note: this is just Mexico. The press is suddenly waking up to the fact that some of the really heavy stuff (e.g. the aforementioned grenades, machine guns and rocket launchers) is coming from even less fastidious governments (if such a thing is possible) to Mexico’s south.
A few weeks ago, a leaked U.S. State Dept. cable stated that 90 percent of the drug cartels’ “heavy armament” enters Mexico through Guatemala. According to IHS Global Insights, the head of U.S. Southern Command, General Douglas Fraser, told the Senate that over 50 percent of the cartels’ military-grade weaponry hails from Central America.
And this is just the shit we know about. Could an American firearms manufacture have airlifted a crate or ten of weapons straight to the cartels? Nah. Of course not. But one thing’s for sure: when it comes to arming the bad guys south of the border, the ATF Gunwalker scandal is a sideshow. Any attempt to litigate American gunmakers runs the risk of highlighting the real action.
So it won’t happen. Everyone has too much to lose. Apparently, the Mexicans jumped into bed with RC&T before the ATF Gunwalker scandal broke, when the “America is causing the carnage” meme had some credibility (no small thanks to Barack Obama). But here’s the real question: who’s idea was this in the first place?
Credit RC&T Partner William T. Reid [pictured above]. According to the law firm’s website:
Bill acts as lead counsel in a pending case for a number of Colombian governmental entities, including The Republic of Colombia, Bogotá Capital District, and 24 Departments, in a civil RICO Act money-laundering case against several of the world’s largest liquor manufacturers, seeking several hundred million dollars in damages.
So the international ambulance chaser got himself all liquored-up and now has the American gun industry in his sights—and dollar signs in his eyes (ipso facto). Bill’s been around the block. He must know the dangers involved with this case, from both the cartels and the American firearms industry. Never mind a runaway jury. This could be a case of run away before you and your family are slaughtered like sheep. And yet . . . money! Fame! Kudos! Money!
Ladies and gentlemen, this guns-to-Mexico story is far from played out. At some point, somehow, the S will HTF. Guaranteed.