HomeNewsBriefUS-Mexico Cooperation Falters to Advantage of Gun Runners
BRIEF

US-Mexico Cooperation Falters to Advantage of Gun Runners

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 29 FEB 2016 BY ELISE DITTA EN

Cooperation between Mexican and U.S. authorities on arms trafficking has dropped off in recent years, even as traffickers continue to move huge quantities of arms across the border while taking advantage of legal loopholes.

Since Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, cooperation between the U.S. and Mexican authorities on ending arms trafficking has decreased, reported the Global Post. The Global Post cites a January 2016 United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that noted that in 2011, US officials evaluated 22,097 guns seized in Mexico, compared to just 15,142 in 2014.

16 2 29 Mxarmstrafficking2 brief

According to officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) this shift in the numbers does not necessarily mean that there are fewer guns being trafficked to Mexico. Instead, it likely points to a fluctuation in cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.

The GAO noted that in 2011, when the number of guns evaluated by the U.S. was the highest, the Mexican government had widely implemented a software program called Etrace which allows Mexican officials to enter information on seized weapons for U.S. officials to evaluate. However, in 2012, when Peña Nieto took office, he pulled access to the program for many Mexican officials. This was part of Peña Nieto's broader strategy to reevaluate law enforcement cooperation with the U.S. 

On the U.S. side, the GAO report also points to continued hesitation by U.S officials to collaborate with Mexican officials due to perceived corruption.

Some analysts believe that the decrease in collaboration is a sign of lack of political will: "I don't get any sense of 'the fierce urgency of now' from any of the parties on the Mexican or US side when it comes to dealing with the issue," Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) told Global Post.

Insight Crime Analysis

Lack of political will and cooperation may be part of the reason that up to 85 percent of the 15 million guns in Mexico are illegal, but other factors also play a role.

Legal loopholes make it easier for innovative traffickers to import guns. The GAO report details how gunrunners now legally buy firearm parts which they smuggle to Mexico and assemble there.

     SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles 

Other reports have noted how loopholes in U.S. laws regarding foreign guns have allowed traffickers to move Romanian and Bulgarian weapons into Mexico.

In addition, illegal trafficking from external providers is hardly the only source of weapons in Mexico. Mexico's legal arms imports grew by 331 percent over the last five years, compared to 2006-2010. Paulina Arriaga, the director of gun control advocacy group Desarma Mexico, told the Global Post that Mexican tracking of legal firearms is "rudimentary" at best, making it is easy for these legal weapons to slip into the illicit market.

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

FENTANYL / 19 JUL 2021

The United States saw a record toll in drug overdose deaths last year, driven in part by two powerful synthetic…

MEXICO / 7 DEC 2011

U.S. congressmen are investigating reports that drug enforcement agents laundered millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels as part of…

HOMICIDES / 25 MAY 2016

The small west Mexico state of Colima has seen homicides rise by more than 900 percent compared to last year…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.