It’s a constant drone of accusations and finger-pointing that the U.S. is responsible for the violence on the streets of Mexico edging the country close to a state of anarchy. Yes, we Americans who represent only about 6% of the worlds population, consume nearly 90% of the worlds drugs and thus, represent the key marketplace for South American cocaine and other drugs shipped via Mexico into the U.S. Clearly, serious steps in the realm of education, socialization and media have to come into play to somehow try to reduce that consumption rate. But let’s examine the violence associated with this “drug war”. Amidst the violence, the terror, the beheadings, the senselessness of it all, it is the sheer overwhelming use of firepower by the Cartels that stands out; fully-automatic military-grade machine guns as high as 50 caliber, IED’s, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG’s) in this three-pronged war between the seven Cartels and the government of Mexico and the Cartels and their rival factions for control of the “plazas” or distribution routes. As one organization is taken out, another quickly moves in to fill the vacuum and establish control of that plaza through violence and intimidation. Some recent activities appear to come right out of the terror playbooks of theFARC or even al-Qaeda. President Calderon of Mexico, in his spring visit to the U.S., admonished the U.S. and the availability of weapons in the United States for the cause of the weapon-related violence in Mexico. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton echoed similar sentiments in a visit to Mexico City earlier this year. California Senator Diane Feinstein claims 90% of the guns killing police, judges and mayors in Mexico come from the United States and the media constantly beats a similar drum regarding the U.S. and our lax gun laws feeding the violence in Mexico.
The fact is, only a small percentage of the guns linked to drug-related violence in Mexico actually come from the U.S. Mexican law-enforcement and the military have jointly worked with ATF and other U.S. agencies and have passed the identity of seized guns with obvious markings and serial numbers for tracing and further identification. The operative word here is traceable weapons. In these instances, where seized weapons have serial numbers and can be traced, a significant portion will be traced to the U.S. and that’s where the media and politicians hang their hat. But to stop there and characterize the problem as one with purely American roots is unfair and, frankly, disingenuous. The real fact is, over 80% of the weapons seized at Mexican crime scenes are untraceable and never submitted to U.S. authorities. Those traceable U.S. firearms actually only represent about 17% of guns and weapons found at Mexican crime scenes.
So where do these guns come from? On the surface, a cursory review of the high-powered military-grade seized weaponry; grenades, RPG’s, 50 caliber machine guns clearly indicates this weaponry is not purchased at gun shows in the United States and can’t even be found commercially available to consumers in the U.S. The vast majority of the weaponry used in this “drug war” comes into Mexico through the black market and the wide-open porous southern border of Mexico and Guatemala. This black market emanates from a variety of global gun-runners with ties to Russian organized crime, global terror groups with a firm foothold in Latin-America such as Hizballah and the FARC as well as factions left over from the civil wars in Central America during the 1980’s. Chinese arms traffickers have managed to disperse weapons, particularly grenades, on the streets of Mexico. In addition, many of the Mexican military issued Belgian-made automatic M-16’s currently in the hands of traffickers have been pilfered from military depots and the thousands who have deserted the Mexican army in recent years.
The Mexican Cartels, who conservatively realize annual profits approaching $50 Billion (that’s Billion with a B) are not realistically going to establish straw buyers at U.S. gun shows when the merchants of death in Russia, China, Latin-America, Israel and South Africa are willing to peddle their wares.
Americans are not fully responsible for the gun-related violence in Mexico…we are responsible for the creation of the world’s premier drug marketplace for the Cartels and their surrogates.
To that end, as a society, we have a responsibility to intelligently consider solutions to this problem that we share with our neighbors to the south.