I enjoyed watching Congressman Darrel Issa raking Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich over the coals for his agency’s failure to comply with requests for information about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ anti-gun running gun running operation. I look forward to discovering WTF the ATF was thinking when they allowed thousands of guns to walk into the hands of murderous Mexican drug cartels, finding out who thought it acceptable when. But let’s be clear: the Gunwalker scandal is a sideshow. The real question is this: who is REALLY arming the Mexican drug cartels and when did President Obama know about it?
The U.S. “contribution” to the Mexican drug cartels’ confiscated armory is statistically insignificant. Using the 2008 stats above as a guide, American guns account for just 12 percent of all the guns submitted by the Mexicans to the ATF through the latter’s eTrace system. Not to state the obvious, but that leaves 88 percent of their guns coming from somewhere else. Or does it?
Before the ATF started sending U.S. guns into Mexico by proxy, the Mexican government used to release data on all guns that it confiscated from the bad guys. Then, it didn’t. Which leaves some rather large holes in our understanding of which weapons the BGs are using to kill each other, journalists, judges, politicians, businessmen, civilians, police (rarely) and military forces (when they belong to a rival cartel) and anyone else they choose.
For example . . .
Although 12 percent of the guns submitted for trace to the ATF are U.S. origin, that doesn’t mean that the remaining 88 percent aren’t U.S. origin. We don’t know. The Mexicans aren’t telling us. But we can guess. Logic and anecdotal evidence leads us to believe that yup, the guns are hecho en America del Norte. They’re U.S. weapons legally supplied to the Mexican military and police.
It would be easy enough to find out. All weapons sold to Mexico’s military and police forces are clearly stamped with an ID that says “Property of the Mexican Military” or “Property of the Mexican police.” They all come with an ID number that can be traced back to the original seller.
And if the weapons don’t come from legal sales to Mexico, if they came from sales to various governments and insurgencies south of Mexico’s border, that would be easy enough to establish that as well. More serial numbers, more well-maintained U.S. arms sales records. So . . . show us the guns.
Or, if you prefer, the hand grenades. Lest we forget, the Mexican drug cartels are using military-grade weaponry to defend and extend their turf. Fully automatic rifles equipped with grenade launchers. And grenades to match.
Back in October, borderlandbeat.com reported that Mexico’s black market was selling American grenades for $6.50 a pop. So where’d those come from then—and don’t say straw purchasers shopping at Bob’s gun store.
Bill Newell, regional director for Arizona and New Mexico A.T.F., said there are indications that several of the explosives seized in the State were acquired through connections with corrupt officials in Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador.
“There is legal trade in military weapons around the world,” said Newell, whose office works with the PGR in tracing the weapons confiscated.
That would be the same Bill Newell who’s up to his eyeballs in the ATF’s Gunwalker scandal. Interesting that Newell points his finger at legal military weapons trade, as if that makes the cartels’ ability to secure hand grenades OK on some level.
So we have three categories of weapons used by the cartels:
1. New guns and ammo purchased at Bob’s gun store (or similar) by straw purchasers and then smuggled across the U.S. – Mexican border—over half of which may have been enabled by the ATF’s Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious. Submitted for trace to the ATF.
2. Current and previous U.S. government-sanctioned sales of fully automatic rifles, ammo, grenades, grenade launchers, etc. to South American military and law enforcement agencies and various U.S. backed insurgencies—which “seep” into the hands of Mexico’s drug thugs. Not submitted for trace to the ATF.
3. Para numero tres, we turn to security analysts Stratfor:
The third category of weapons encountered in Mexico is military-grade ordnance not generally available for sale in the United States or Mexico. This category includes hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), automatic assault rifles and main battle rifles and light machine guns.
This third type of weapon is fairly difficult and very expensive to obtain in the United States, especially in the large numbers in which the cartels are employing them. They are also dangerous to obtain in the United States due to heavy law enforcement scrutiny. Therefore, most of the military ordnance used by the Mexican cartels comes from other sources, such as the international arms market — increasingly from China via the same networks that furnish precursor chemicals for narcotics manufacturing — or from corrupt elements in the Mexican military or even deserters who take their weapons with them. Besides, items such as South Korean fragmentation grenades and RPG-7s, often used by the cartels, simply are not in the U.S. arsenal. This means that very few of the weapons in this category come from the United States.
OK, one more thing. The pie chart at the top of this post does not represent the whole picture. It merely shows a glimpse of the origin of the guns confiscated by the Mexicans. What of the tens of thousands of guns NOT confiscated by the Mexican government? Or the tens of thousands of guns confiscated by the Mexican that were returned to the drug thugs?
If you wanted to know who was suppling Philadelphia’s criminals with guns, and you suspected that the entire Philadelphia Police Department was profoundly corrupt (stay with me), would you trust their data on recovered weapons? Like that. Times ten.
If Representative Issa and Senator Grassley want to know the ATF’s role in arming the people committing the carnage in Mexico, they should send their investigators to Mexico to see the actual guns confiscated by the Mexican government. ALL OF THEM. The team should photo every serial number they can find and then find someone at the ATF or FBI whom they can trust to run the numbers.
They could also call convicted members of Mexican drug cartels with some knowledge of weapons supply, offering them immunity for their information. There’s nothing like getting intel from the people on the ground.
While the investigation into the ATF’s Gunwalker stupidity should continue, Rep. Issa’s hunting dogs should widen their efforts to expose America’s collusion with the Mexican drug cartels, including the legal sales of weapons to people who sell them on to the viscous criminals who destroy democracy and oppress the Mexican people with torture, murder and extortion.
The truth about the ATF is that they are a bit player in a much larger plot to “walk” American-made weapons into Mexico, to help maintain good relations with a Mexican government controlled by criminals and, yes, terrorists.
Ask yourself this: why hasn’t the Mexican government gone ballistic about the ATF Gunwalker scandal? Uncle Sam providing guns to narco-terrorists? It’s an outrage! Either that or official policy.