HomeNewsBriefMexico Losing the Fight Against Illegal Firearms
BRIEF

Mexico Losing the Fight Against Illegal Firearms

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 15 JUN 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

Press reports have raised the alarm on decreasing gun seizures in Mexico and their possible impact on homicides, but the bigger issue may be the sheer size of Mexico's black market.

The number of illegal firearms seized by Mexican authorities dropped by more than 60 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to Milenio.

Citing data from the Defense Department (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional), the news outlet reported on June 15 that seizures stood at 9,474 in 2013, but only 3,593 in 2016.

Nearly 28,000 illegal weapons were seized between December 2012, when President Enrique Peña Nieto took office, and May 2017. A total of 3,324 of grenades were also taken out of circulation during that period. Grenade seizures decreased by nearly 70 percent between 2013 and 2016, however.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

These figures indicate that Mexican authorities seized an average of 17 weapons and 2 grenades per day since Peña Nieto took office. The majority of these firearms were high powered weapons.

A separate report by Animal Político noted that the number of investigations for carrying or stocking illegal firearms dropped steeply between the first four months of 2015 and those of 2017, while the number of cases opened for gun-related homicides during those same periods increased by 70 percent, numbering 5,075 cases between January and May 2017.

The study suggests a correlation between the decreasing illegal firearms investigation and the rising number of gun-related homicides since 2015. The report also notes that several Mexican states with the highest rates of open investigations into illegal weapons possession -- such as Baja California, Michoacán and Sinaloa -- are also areas with high homicide rates.

InSight Crime Analysis

The reports are not positive, but the greater issue concerning Mexico's weapons black market may be the sheer number of illegal weapons available, rather than a percentage decrease in the small quantity of weapons taken off the black market in recent years.

Assessing the number of available illegal weapons is inherently complicated, but approximates over the years have repeatedly indicated that Mexico's black market holds millions of firearms. In a 2015 report, for example, the country's legislature estimated that 13 million out of 15 million firearms in circulation were illegal.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

Mexican cartels have also been largely successful in acquiring military-grade weapons over the years. Criminal elements sometimes have superior firepower than security forces, and seizures also indicate a steady sophistication of criminals' arsenals.

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

MEXICO / 18 DEC 2020

Lawmakers in Mexico have passed a new law that limits the power and restricts the operations of foreign law enforcement…

FENTANYL / 21 JAN 2022

Chinese companies are turning to online sales to supply the fentanyl precursor market in Mexico. As a result, more criminal…

CONTRABAND / 20 OCT 2020

A massive robbery of nearly 38,000 cancer drugs from a warehouse in Mexico City points to a growing sophistication in…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…