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

HOMICIDES / 1 MAY 2021

Mexico has once again dominated a list of the most violent cities in the world but smaller towns have now…

BELIZE / 10 AUG 2021

The leader of a transnational money laundering network cleaned drug money through a scheme that included casinos, a seafood export…

BRAZIL / 7 OCT 2022

Latin America's environmental and land protectors are routinely murdered by the regions criminals.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…