Mexico demands answers amid flood of US military-grade weapons to drug cartels

 The Mexican government has called for an "urgent" investigation into how US-level weapons ended up in the hands of drug cartels.

"Weapons like this pose an extreme danger when they get into the hands of criminals," Christina Mastropacqua, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), told Fox News Digital. "There is a danger not only to the public, but also to law enforcement agents on both sides of the border."

"Operation Southbound is ATF's primary operational initiative to disrupt firearms trafficking from the United States to Mexico," Mastropasqua explained. “Operation Southbound focuses on the four southwest border states, as the majority of firearms smuggled into Mexico originate there, but is not limited to just those states.”

"Cross-border firearms trafficking is widespread, it does not occur only at the border, and it does not always involve dozens of firearms being transported illegally at once; often only a few are smuggled, and They originate in states away from the southwest border,” he added.

Voice of America reported in June that the number of weapons smuggled into Mexico may exceed half a million per year, but the total number remains uncertain.

This issue has been troubling America for years. President Obama formalized the Border Enforcement Security Task Force in 2012, focused on combating cartel activities, primarily focused on arms smuggling, but Mexican officials claim that the issue Has not reduced to a great extent.

Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena said, "The (Mexican) Defense Department has warned the United States about weapons entering Mexico that are for the exclusive use of the US military."

The Mexican military said it had seized 221 fully automatic machine guns, 56 grenade launchers and a dozen rocket launchers from the cartels since late 2018.

US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar told reporters on Monday that "70% of the weapons that cause violence in Mexico come from the United States." He stressed that reducing the flow of arms from the US to Mexico remains a top priority for President Biden, reports AFP.

"We're going to look into it, we're committed to working with Sedena (Mexico's Defense Department) to see what's going on," Salazar said.

A Reuters report from December 2023 highlighted an example of a US arms factory in Wisconsin that in 2018 allegedly began supplying high-caliber weapons, including sniper rifles, to the cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.

Citing former US ATF agents, the report claimed that the cartel "took advantage of lax federal and state-level gun control regulations" to purchase some of the most powerful weapons available to US citizens.

According to an indictment in the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin, members of a local family in Racine, Wisconsin, who had ties to cousins in Mexico, would buy the guns and ship them to California, where they could ship the weapons across the border.

Mexican authorities discovered that the same cartel possessed five rocket launchers during the summer of 2023, seized four more launchers from the rival Sinaloa cartel and seized three more launchers from other cartels.

"In Mexico, oftentimes, when firearms are moved into illegal markets, they are going to arm dangerous drug cartels," Mastropasqua said. "They are ending up in the hands of extremely violent organizations that want to use firearms to pursue other criminal and illegal activities."

He added, "Many times these cartels are not just looking for a gun to fuel their criminal enterprises." "They are looking for weapons that can defeat Mexican law enforcement officers, including weapons used by the U.S. military."

Mastropasqua said, "ATF's Mexico Country Office works closely with Mexican authorities to increase the volume and timeliness of firearms tracing through ATF's eTrace system: that is, tracing a crime gun back to its first known retail purchase. To track.” “This capability is incredibly important because so many firearms recovered from crimes in Mexico originate in the United States. Between 2017 and 2022, trace submissions from Mexico have nearly doubled.”

In 2022 a US federal judge dismissed Mexico's $10 billion lawsuit against seven US gun manufacturers and one distributor, in which officials argued that the companies knew the weapons they made would eventually be sold to smugglers and He decided to make profit.

However, on Monday, a Boston appeals court revived the lawsuit, saying that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers from harm "resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse" of a firearm, applies to such cases. do not apply. Happened in Mexico.

The Pentagon referred Fox News Digital to the Mexican government or the U.S. State Department when asked for comment. The State Department did not give any response till time

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