Hint [via borderlandbeat.com]: you’re looking at 40 AK-47s, nine AR-15s, an M-16, a grenade launcher and more than 11k rounds of ammunition. Hint II: It’s not Bob’s Gun Store. We’d know that for deffo if Mexico reported the guns’ serial numbers, as they used to do. Post-Fast and Furious, the Mexican government destroys the firearms. PR problem solved. Never mind. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence (e.g., nearly 150k bodies) to suggest the Mexican cartels have sufficient guns and ammo to destroy the rule of law in their home country. And Guatemala. Bolivia. Colombia. All of South America, really. And not without their governments’ help. Which is why the Fast and Furious scandal still has a lid on it; Uncle Sam has been playing ball with the bad guys since ever. Not to mention the fact that U.S. drug users are sending the bad guys an estimated $1b cash money per week. And we worry about Syria?

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25 Responses to Where Are The Cartels Getting Their Guns?

  1. Recently, I read an article in my college’s daily newspaper talking about the violence in Mexico. It was well written until I got to the part about the “unending flow of lethal weapons from the U.S. into the hands of the cartels”. I contacted the author of the article and kindly told him his assertions on the source of the cartels’ firearms were incorrect. As I expected, he asked for proof, so I sent him links to the codified laws regarding the legal sale of machine guns to private citizens in this country.

    He wasn’t convinced and told me that the cartels “can just buy semi-automatic weapons here and convert them into machine guns when they ship them to Mexico”. He also told me “they can just bribe the gun store owners with enough money into handing over the machine guns, not to mention gun shows here are so lax regarding their policies.”

    I told him that if one can buy an AK-47 in Kenya for a hundred dollars cash or less and smuggle it to Mexico in a box, why would the cartels go through the trouble of converting legal and expensive semi auto rifles sold here? I also told him that such bribes wouldn’t work because federally licensed gun shop owners do not fuck around with the law and that the total number of legally registered machine guns in this country is nowhere near those illegally circulating throughout Mexico that were bought on the black market. Finally, I reminded him we need a U.S. government issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport to buy anything at a gun show from a dealer, and that you also need to be a resident of the state the gun show is in with ID to buy from a private seller.

    Sadly, he didn’t take the bait and decided to keep living in his fantasy world where we’re throwing full auto M16s and AKs over the border faster Jim Carrey on crack. And the sad thing is, I go to college in a very gun friendly state. Some journalists are just so God damn stupid. I’m not surprised this kind of garbage spills into the real world of professional journalism yearly.

    • I respectfully disagree that it’s stupidity. It’s willful ignorance, which is self-inflicted, and therefore harder to correct.

      • Yes I agree with you. Too often do we hear about reporters who still get all emotional and rant on about “the evils of the American gun culture” for hours, when the irrefutable stats and evidence are practically sitting in their laps. Selective ignorance indeed, it’s sickening.

  2. Recently I read an article in my college’s daily newspaper talking about the violence in Mexico. It was well written article until I got to the part about the “unending flow of lethal weapons from the U.S. into the hands of the cartels”. I contacted the student author of the article and kindly told him his assertion on the source of the cartels’ firearms was incorrect. As I expected he asked for proof, so I sent him links to the laws on the legal sale of machine guns to private citizens in this country.
    Sadly, he wasn’t convinced and told me that the cartels “have infiltrated our country so far that they can just buy semi-automatic weapons here and convert them into machine guns when they ship them to Mexico, after all, it’s too easy to buy guns here anyway.” He also told me “they can just bribe the gun store owners with enough money so they fork over the machine guns.”
    I told him that if one can buy a full auto AK-47 in Kenya or Pakistan for a hundred dollars cash or less and smuggle it to Mexico in a box, why would the cartels go through the trouble of converting legally purchased semi-auto rifles or buying astronomically more expensive full-auto rifles sold here? I also told him that such bribes would not be accepted because federally licensed gun shop owners here do not fuck around with the law and that the total number of legally registered full-auto weapons in this country numbers nowhere near those being illegally purchased on the black market and smuggled into Mexico.
    Sadly, he didn’t take the bait and decided to keep living in his fantasy world where we’re throwing mil-spec full-auto M16s and AK47s over the border faster than Jim Carrey on crack. And the sad thing is, I go to college in a very gun friendly state. My final words were that he do a little research into the Fast and Furious tragedy. Some of these “journalists” are so God damn stupid. I’m not surprised so much of this university cultivated brain-washed garbage pours into the real world of professional journalism every year.

  3. Great points and concur. One point, please don’t just dump C-o-l-o-m-b-i-a into that group. The country of Colombia has made huge strides in the past 15 years through great democratically elected leadership and US help. Places I could not go as a gringo 15 years ago are safely accessible now. Colombia was also at the top of the world murders list back then and has steadily moved down the list since. The only unfortunate part is that when we have a recession it adversely affects their economy as other central and south american countries like Costa Rica…yes trickle down economics does work.

    • You’re absolutely right about Colombia, and a lot of the credit goes to Alvaro Uribe, a president who had the guts, the smarts, and the will to see it through. The thing that ought to give us concern, though, is the direction the storm seems to be moving.

      The 150,000 bodies appears to be an annual toll across North, Central and South America. As Lynyrd Skynyrd might say, “that’s one helluva price for you to get your kicks.”

  4. Do you remember the reports of how many hundreds of FFL guys popped up along the border a few years ago? Business was so good they multiplied like mushrooms.

    An unbiased person could easily draw conclusions from that, which I daresay you did. And then you and others like you spent hundreds of posts and untold effort to explain it away.

    The only ones convinced by all that are you, all of you, and I think the more intelligent among you know the truth but you can’t afford to admit it.

    • Try this on for size, from the “delusional” reporters at Reuters as previously reported by TTAG (you must have been absent that day):

      In 2009 alone, U.S. manufacturers sold 18,709 guns to the Mexican military, reports CBS News. About 26% of those guns were “diverted” into the wrong hands.

      This is because an estimated 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected and now work for cartels. They take their military-issued guns with them.

      According to the Chicago Sun Times (and others), “there are roughly 8,500 [FFL] dealers in the four [border] states.” So every one of those dealers would have to have sold between 17 and 18 firearms illegally (an offense that could earn them jail time if it wasn’t an ATF-sponsored sale) to equal the number of guns handed over or retained for use by Mexican military defectors, assuming a “one man one gun” military to cartel seepage.

      But even if we accept the laughable idea that the defectors didn’t bring at least one gun with them and extrapolate the 26% stat (4864 Mexican military firearms that went walkies to the cartels in 2009), then we end up with 14,593 defectors’ guns in the last three years. Fast and Furious—Uncle Sam’s official gun walking operation from U.S. gun stores—smuggled some 2000 guns in ten months. For comparison sake.

      Oh did Reuters forget to discuss the guns that went from U.S. sales of Mexican police to the cartels? Or guns from Heckler & Koch (who suspended sales to the Mexican military for that very reason)? Or guns from Russia? China?

      American FFLs are not the problem here. Need more proof or are you going to stick with your unsubstantiated suspicions?

    • There you go again, Mikey….saying what we (“all of you”), a diverse group of people, think. You don’t know the situation in Mexico, or from whence most of their guns come. You just make stuff up and spout like a six-year-old at the playground. BATFE knows to whom each gun was sold by the FFL dealers in the Southwest. You don’t have to worry your little head about it. I’ll tell you that the largest single source of firearms is the Ejírcito Mexicano. Number two for serious arms (fully automatic weapons, grenades, explosives) is transhipment via Guatamala through Chiapas, and via Mexican ports. The Policia Federal Protectiva knows this. They just hype up the US gun connection as a ‘thank you note’ to US Agencies wanting to boost their waning support. And you have different numbers? No you don’t. Please, Mikey, stop saying “you, all of you…” You have no idea what you are talking about, nor do you know what all of us think. Contribute something other than aspersions. Otherwise you’ll get aspersions in return. Can you, Mike Bonomo, buy a gun legally in the US these days?

  5. When guns move from the US to mx, which has been frequent in the last few decades, they mostly came from kitchen table ffl networks and gun shows, largely in tx, but throughout the US. Thousands of ak semis since the early 80s. Regarding cartels’ ability to destabilize mexico, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, having firepower to do it is not the same as being able to carry it off. Second, the cartels benefit more from the current system that they manipulate, than from an uncertain anarchic future system. Third, like most nations, when mexico feels it’s about to go down, it would declare martial law and systemized lockdowns cripple cartel biz. Cartels may corrupt local federal entities, but the military is the least corrupted, and martial law would shift local military leaders around specifically to minimize the influence of corruption. Mexican powers that be benefit from cartel money. IF there was a govt wide destabilization, the cartels would no longer have to pay them, and the govt would lose too. Criminal destabilization is lose-lose.

    • What on earth leads you to say “the military is the least corrupted.” I’m curious. The citizens of Nuevo Laredo wouldn’t agree. It’s been terrible for decades in the Army staff. It is so bad today that only the Navy Specials are trusted with any mission which must not be leaked or bought off (to prearranged failure). In the past when the PRI and Justice had a smooth deal working with Sinaloa and Gulf, things were fine. With the buy-off of the Zetas as hit men, then their own cartel, things fell apart, and today I would say Mexico is thorough destabilized. Without US troops martial law would only be laughed at. In the south today, Chiapa, it’s anybody’s game and government rule is still only partial. The hiring of Guatamalan Specials by the cartels has made the Chiapa route for drugs and guns the best in the hemisphere. There are two ports just north of Chiapa which are simply not controlled by the government, which has made delivery of raw chemicals and automatic weapons simpler. I’m cheered to hear that you do not thing Mexico is yet destabilized. I’m also surprised. Manufactured goods coming north from central Mexico have to be insured. If Marsh & McLennan provide the policy, there will be trucks of troops with machine guns accompanying the trucks through the mountains. At any rate, good to hear they are stable today.

      • Good analysis. Note that I said “least corrupted,” not “un-corrupted. It’s relative. Another thing that’s relative is “destabilized.” The govt and nation is troubled, but not destabilized. Destabilized means revolution and anarchy, and despite doom and gloom forecasts, the state of mexico is not yet destabilized. Many 3rd world countries have mexico’s problems, though not necessarily the same dynamics behind those problems. But that doesn’t make them destabilized.

        • Got it. Just a usage difference between us, Same outlook. In my usage a government that is destabilized (no longer stable) is one vulnerable to breakdown, military repression, revolution, or coup if it doesn’t work fast. To you (and why not) it’s probably too late for a country once it has been destabilized and it will get one on of the list of bad outcomes. Agree with you about comparisons, and I note Mexico is actually a prosperous nation, relative to poor nations. Let’s agree on this: things are a mess down there at the moment and it would be nice if they’d get it together.

  6. I would think they would record each serial number even if they do destroy them but then again maybe not. Since we don’t have them in hand to investigate I could not say for sure where they came from. I can certainly imagine rifles and pistols coming from the US. For the larger artillery like another poster said, it isn’t that hard to get them on the Russian black market, or certain African nations. I am not talking about one or two I am talking palette loads. Then have a transport plane drop them over Mexico which wouldn’t be hard to do. Even with shipping costs it would probably still be less expensive.
    If Dealers and gun shows are to blame then we should try and top it if possible.

  7. Oh, I am sure that a lot of developing countries ( and the US Govt. ) will sell weapons to anybody clandestinally or with a bogus end user certificate. After all, they sure were not lining up to buy their cars.

  8. But they are not supposed to have all those guns! But they get them. And many Americans get prohibited substances known as drugs. I am tempted to say prohibition does not work, but then I would have to know the goal in mind.

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