TTAG’s been saying this since the site began a year ago last February: the Mexican drug thugs get most of their guns from “legitimate” U.S. (and foreign) sales to the country’s military and law enforcement. The fact that the cartels have been using machine guns and grenades was an excellent clue. It’s gratifying to see that the mainstream media (MSM) is finally figuring out that you don’t buy that kind of killer kit at Bob’s All-American gun store on the Mexican border. I know some people consider Fox faux news, but this time, they’re right . . .
In fact, many of these weapons are getting to Mexico via the U.S. government. Tens of thousands of firearms and explosives are sold legally through the U.S. State Department to the Mexican government. These weapons are then funneled to the traffickers and cartels by corrupt officials within the Mexico Ministry of Defense and local and state police departments.
According to State Department documents, in 2009 Mexico bought nearly $177 million worth of American-made weapons, exceeding sales to Iraq and Afghanistan. That number includes $20 million in semi- and fully automatic weapons.
“Most of the M16s were sold legally to the Mexican government and disappeared,” Kartchner added.
State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks confirm that fear. One cable from November 2009 reads, “U.S. law enforcement has fair reason to worry a number of weapons simply disappear… ”
Another from June 2009 says, “Rogue elements of the Guatemalan military are selling weapons to narcos.”
“These are weapons that have been stockpiled either through U.S. aid programs or currently being shipped there under the guise of military support,” said a confidential informant in Arizona who has worked for federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF and DEA.
The article looks like one of those pieces that the network holds in reserve until a propitious moment. And I bet that this AP story was the tipping point:
Mexican drug cartels are trying to buy high-powered weapons from military and police forces in Central America, according to El Salvador’s defense minister, Gen. David Munguia.
Mexican officials have long said the most of the guns used by the cartels are smuggled in from the United States. But Gen. Munguia warned Tuesday that the Mexican gangs that have expanded into Central America are also trying to buy weapons there.
“There is a real threat, that is true,” Gen. Munguia told the local television station Channel 33. “All the armies in Central America, the police forces and municipal police, everyone who weapons, should be on alert and take measures to avoid them being stolen.”
“The Mexican cartels have set up a sort of rear guard for themselves in Central America, a logistical base,” Munguia said. “The cartels that operate in southern Mexico and in Guatemala are trying to supply themselves with weapons in the Central American area.”
Next question: what is the U.S. going to do about this? Will they turn the heat off of U.S. gun dealers? That’s a story for another post . . .