You have to take your little victories where you get get ’em. We’re not sure this actually constitutes a win, but it’s a new week, spring has sprung and we’re feeling more half full than half empty. A recent dispatch from Reuters (we’re not really sure if this is a news report or and op ed piece) highlights what TTAG and other Fast and Furious watchers have been saying for a long time now. Whatever the ostensible motivations for F&F were, making a significant dent in the number of guns running south wasn’t one of them. Why? Because retail-sourced guns via straw purchasers is a tiny fraction of the southbound firepower. The vast majority of the guns that arm the cartels are purchased legally by the Mexican military . . .
Though the ATF’s actions are a bit questionable, there’s actually a completely legal — and perhaps more harmful — way the U.S. is arming Mexican cartels. It’s called “direct commercial sales” and it’s operated by the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC).
So how is taxpayer money paying to arm drug dealers?
Under the direct commercial sales program, foreign governments can submit an application to the DDTC. When approved, they are free to purchase weapons made by private U.S. manufacturers.
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.
That’s only about 4900 guns, which is no doubt a vast undercounting of the number of weapons diverted – either by defecting troops or magically shrinking military inventories. And let’s not forget the Mexican police, either, who no doubt have their own defectors and lightfingered, cartel-funded amorers. Remember this oldie but goodie from ATF Death Watch #117?
And the fact that Mexican drug cartels are armed to the teeth with fully automatic American military rifles (complete with grenade launchers and grenades) that “seeped” to the drug thugs from official U.S. sales to the Mexican military, Mexican law enforcement and the rest of Latin America’s armed service and police forces. Hundreds of thousands of weapons. Over decades.
Still, it’s refreshing to see even this acknowledgment that the drug lords are being armed by a lot more than Jose slipping across the border with a trunk full of AKs and FiveseveNs.
So it’s getting harder to make the case that Bob’s Guns in Nogales was appreciably adding to the Sinaloas’ stock of full-auto M-4s and grenade launchers. Not that the Justice Department and their willing accomplices won’t try. But the fact that even a small mainstream media piece like this was written is a step – incremental though it may be – in the right direction.