HomeNewsAnalysisMexican State Police Seek Increased Firepower
ANALYSIS

Mexican State Police Seek Increased Firepower

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 22 FEB 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

As Mexico’s drug war heats up, local police officers often find themselves outgunned by drug gangs, many of which have purchased combat arms at U.S. gun shops and shows, or - in some cases - stolen them from police stockpiles.

Now, however, Mexico’s governors are fighting back. As Mexico’s El Milenio reports, since 2009 the country’s Secretariat of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional - SEDENA) has received requests from at least nine state governments for hand grenades in order to give their local police forces an edge in the war on drugs.

The defense agency has already given hand grenades to police in several states, including Zacatecas, Guerrero, Coahuila and Yucatan. On the waiting list for the explosives are Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Veracruz, which are expected to arm some local police with grenades by the end of the year.

Hand grenades are not the only comparative advantage that state governments are seeking. As the Associated Press reported in 2008, governors are also trying to get higher caliber rifles for their security forces, as well as more ammunition. Their adversaries, foot soldiers of Mexico’s cartels, are often equipped with .50 caliber sniper rifles, AK-47 variants, and body armor.

Although Mexican Federal Police and state police in Chihuahua, Jalisco, Chiapas and Guerrero use AR-15 and G36 assault rifles, most municipal and state police in Mexico are armed with shotguns or .38 caliber pistols, which hardly compete with the heavy arsenals of drug gangs.

As more states seek to beef up their security arms stockpiles, however, there is a risk that some of these weapons will actually end up in the hands of the cartels they’re meant to fight. Since the beginning of Mexico’s war on organized crime, dozens of police weapons have been “lost,” likely ending up in the country’s black market for arms. According to El Milenio, 156 handguns and 97 rifles have gone missing from state police arsenals since 2009. The largest number of lost weapons is in Chihuahua, where a total of 36 pistols and 57 high-powered rifles have simply vanished in the past two years.

Ultimately, the Mexican military is a fairly insignificant source of weapons for the cartels. As InSight has described in its GunRunners report, the majority of these weapons come from the United States. In the four years that Felipe Calderon has been president of Mexico, his government has seized more than 93,000 weapons, close to 90 percent of which come from gun stores in U.S. border states like Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

The most popular of these weapons is a knockoff of the AK-47, the Romanian-made WASR-10. These semi-automatic rifles are readily available in many American gun stores, despite U.S. restrictions on the importation of assault weapons. In the end, the biggest factor in keeping these rifles out of the hands of Mexico’s drug gangs is limited oversight that government agencies have over arms dealers. Unless something is done to control access to assault weapons in many of the 6,700 gun stores along the southern border, Mexican police will continue to face cartel gunmen armed to the teeth.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HOMICIDES / 26 FEB 2016

Homicides in Mexico's Baja California nearly doubled during January 2016 when compared to the same month last year, raising speculation…

MEXICO / 6 OCT 2016

A recent report has found that nearly one in ten of Mexico's police officers may be unfit for service, underscoring…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 7 MAY 2013

A German arms manufacturer has admitted to illegally selling thousands of rifles to Mexico, where the weapons were reportedly…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…