May 6, 2013
Foreign Policy, 5/3/2013
When President Barack Obama meets with various Central American leaders in Costa Rica this weekend, he will likely face criticism of U.S. domestic firearm laws. Like Mexico, where he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto on May 2, Central American countries have increasingly raised concerns about U.S. firearms trafficking. They have good reason to do so: more and more arms that originated in the United States are being used in violent crimes across the region. And given the recent death of background check legislation in the U.S. Senate, Obama may find it difficult to reassure his critics that the United States is effectively tackling the problem at home.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on U.S. firearms trafficking and an analysis of related U.S. prosecutions, thousands of U.S.-origin firearms (firearms that were either manufactured or imported into the United States) are finding their way to criminals in Central America in the last few years. The flow of U.S. weapons is heaviest to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — all among the top 10 most violent countries in the world.
According to a new Woodrow Wilson Center report focusing on Guatemala, ATF discovered that 2,687 (or 40 percent) of the 6,000 seized firearms it analyzed from just one Guatemalan military bunker in 2009 originated in the United States. In the past five years, there have also been at least 34 U.S. prosecutions related to American firearms trafficking to Guatemala involving a total of 604 U.S.-origin firearms.
March 19, 2013
Some 2.2 percent of all U.S. gun sales are made to smuggling rings that take firearms to Mexico, a scale of illegal trafficking that’s “much higher than widely assumed,” an academic study released Monday found. An average of 253,000 weapons purchased in the United States head south of the border each year, according to the study by four scholars at the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute and the Igarape Institute, a research center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Profit margins at many gun stores are razor thin, and thousands of U.S. gun vendors would go out of business without the illicit traffic to Mexico, said Topher McDougal, an economist educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’s one of the study’s authors. The study’s conclusions are likely to add to controversy over what role U.S. weapons smugglers play in Mexico’s drug violence. Mexican officials have long blamed lax gun laws in the United States for the availability of weapons in Mexico, which has only one gun store and considers gun ownership a privilege, not a right.
February 20, 2013
The Washington Times, 2/20/2013
In the wake of a tense national clash over the issue of gun control, Mexico has taken an action sure to fan the flames of controversy. In January, the Mexico Permanent Commission reportedly voted to formally ask the United States Senate for a registry of all commercialized firearms in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. According to Informador, the proposition was introduced by Senator Marcela Guerra, who stated he introduced the resolution in hopes that it would make it easier to trace guns used in violent crimes. InsightCrime explains,
“Close to 60,000 people were killed during the six-year presidency of Felipe Calderon, who left office in December. The US Southwest is a significant source of weaponry for Mexico’s criminal organizations, who typically purchase firearms from US gun stores via a middleman or ‘straw buyer.’”
February 4, 2013
El Universal, 2/4/2013
Mexico faces a outbreak of young offenders who participate in organized crime. The most dramatic case is that of the state of Nuevo Leon, but states like Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, Morelos, Tlaxcala and Sonora also recorded an increase in the number of young children mixed up in crime.
In addition to young men, more women are committing high impact crimes such as drug trafficking and homicides linked to organized crime.
February 1, 2013
Poder 360, 2/1/2013
La ambiciosa y controvertida propuesta del presidente Barack Obama para que el Congreso de Estados Unidos reinstituya la prohibición de las armas de asalto tipo militar, imponga la revisión universal de antecedentes y reduzca la capacidad de los cargadores de balas, es buena noticia para México.
“Si estas medidas llegaran a concretarse tendrían un efecto importante en la violencia en México”, declaró a PODER Eric Olson, director asociado del Programa Latinoamericano del Woodrow Wilson Center. “Ninguna medida va a acabar por sí misma, o en conjunto, con el problema del tráfico de armas a México, pero éstas y otras pueden hacer más difícil ese proceso, elevando los costos del negocio ilegal y contribuyendo así a la reducción en el trafico”.
January 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 1/27/2013
There are plenty of reasons right here at home to support President Obama’s effort to reform the nation’s gun laws. But if Congress requires additional arguments, it should consider that easy access to guns is also undermining the United States’ avowed goal of combating drug trafficking and transnational gangs abroad.
The U.S. has sent nearly $2 billion in aid to Mexico since 2007, much of that as part of the Merida Initiative, a counter-narcotics program designed to provide aid and equipment for that country’s drug war. Yet that assistance has been undermined by lax U.S. gun laws, which allow members of the drug cartels and their associates to buy weapons here and smuggle them across the border. At least 68,000 of the firearms seized in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 — and probably quite a lot more — came from the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
January 18, 2013
Huffpost Latino Voices, 1/17/2013
Average citizens in towns in Guerrero who are fed up with crime and a government that is doing nothing to help them have banded together to take back their towns in the municipalities of Tecoanapa and Ayutla de Los Libres. The town has voted to continue civil resistance despite warnings from State officials who have warned them that this type of self-defense acts are violent acts and against the law. Yet, the people in Ayutla believe they have a right to arm themselves and take matters into their own hands.
December 24, 2012
Mexico City is sponsoring a program offering cash, toys and computer equipment in exchange for guns in a rough neighborhood where a 10-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as he sat inside a movie theater. The program in the borough of Iztapalapa is dubbed ‘For Your Family: Voluntary Disarmament.’ Borough president Jesus Valencia wrote in his Twitter account Monday that residents had turned in 27 rifles and 65 pistols. The borough has been plagued by violent crime and people firing guns into the air during concerts and celebrations.
October 1, 2012
The Christian Science Monitor, 10/01/2010
Sunday evening, Univision airs an investigative report on how the botched ‘Fast and Furious’ program resulted in a deadly toll in Mexico when US authorities allowed guns to ‘walk’ across the border.
October 6, 2011
Los Angeles Times, 10/6/11
Mexican politicians and pundits reacted with anger to revelations this week that U.S. agents allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico under a secret weapons-tracking program that preceded the current focus of controversy, called Operation Fast and Furious.
Commentators from across the political spectrum expressed criticism after The Times revealed this week that a Fast and Furious-style gun program under President George W. Bush allowed guns to “walk” across the border into Mexico during 2006 and 2007.
Both undercover programs were intended to track guns bought in the United States until they reached top cartel suspects, but instead many weapons were lost.