Firearms from the United States are used in seven out of every 10 high-impact crimes committed in Mexico, according to the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE).
The SRE said in a briefing note that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a federal law enforcement organization within the United States Department of Justice, has confirmed that most guns seized by Mexican authorities come from north of the border.
“Between fiscal years 2012 and 2017, Mexican authorities seized and sent to the ATF for verification a total of 98,654 weapons, of which 69,140 – in other words, 70% – were traced to an origin (manufacture or legal importation) in the United States,” the note said.
The SRE also said that various estimates show that more than 200,000 guns are smuggled into Mexico every year, and that the percentage of murders committed with firearms has been increasing for the past seven years.
“Victims of firearms trafficked from the United States are counted in their thousands. In 1997, only 15% of intentional homicides were committed with firearms. The percentage of intentional homicides in which firearms were used grew gradually. Since 2012, [the figure] has grown year by year to reach the current level of close to 70%,” the note said.
Considering that firearms sourced from the United States “feed” organized crime and given the magnitude of Mexico’s security problems, combating the illegal gun trade is a priority, the SRE said.
To that end, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard proposed to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting in Mexico City on Sunday that joint operations be carried out to stop the flow of weapons across the border.
The SRE said that firearms smuggled into Mexico are often bought at gun markets in the United States, where due to legislative loopholes it is not necessary to check whether purchasers have a criminal record.
It added that a second source of smuggled firearms are U.S. gun stores, where I.D. checks are carried out. However, gunrunners use third parties to make purchases, the SRE said.
Weapons stolen from gun stores and private owners also enter Mexico, the federal department said.
The SRE said that illegal arms trafficking has increased since the United States Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004.
The department explained that almost half of all weapons seized in Mexico that originated in the United States are semi-automatic pistols and rifles such as AK-47s and AR-15s, adding that most illegal weapons that cross into the country come from Texas, which shares borders with the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.
Gun violence is a scourge in several states and Mexico is on track to record its most violent year in recent history.
There were 14,603 homicide cases in the first six months of 2019 and 17,138 murder victims, according to the National Public Security System.
In 2018, there were 33,341 homicide victims, the highest number since comparable records began being kept in 1997.
Source: Milenio (sp)