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Mexico claims cartels have access to US military weapons, pushes investigation

Jan 23

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The Mexican government is calling on the U.S. to take additional measures to curb the illicit flow of U.S. military weapons across its borders. Mexico’s top diplomat announced Monday, Jan. 23, that she is pushing for an investigation into the increasing presence of U.S. military equipment in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

According to The Associated Press, some traffickers are going as far as posting pictures of U.S. military-grade weapons on social media. The Mexican government disclosed that the uncovered equipment includes rocket launchers, grenade launchers and machine guns.

Foreign Relations Secretary Alicia Bárcena stated that Mexico’s government has notified the U.S. of these findings.

“The [Mexican] Defense Department has warned the United States about weapons entering Mexico that are for the exclusive use of the U.S. Army,” Bárcena said. “It is very urgent that an investigation into this be carried out.”

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar responded to Bárcena’s request. Salazar, who became aware of the discovery in a meeting last week with Mexican officials, pledged that thwarting the illegal transfer of U.S. military weapons in Mexico’s black market is a priority for the Biden administration.

In June 2023, the Mexican Army confirmed the confiscation of more than 220 machine guns, close to 60 grenade launchers, and a dozen rocket launchers from Mexican drug cartels since late 2018.

Determining the origin of the illegally acquired U.S. weaponry is a crucial aspect of addressing the problem. Various theories are circulating, ranging from leftover weaponry due to U.S. armed conflicts in Central America in the 1980s to reports of weapons manufacturers selling their devices on the black market.

While the recent seizures of U.S. military equipment by Mexico’s army are newly disclosed, Mexico has long grappled with violence attributed to drug cartels, often pointing to U.S. gun manufacturers for a surge in violent crime. The Mexican government estimates that 70% of weapons trafficked into the country originate from the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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[KARAH RUCKER]

GRENADES. ROCKET LAUNCHERS. MACHINE GUNS.

U-S MILITARY-GRADE EQUIPMENT IS MAKING ITS WAY INTO THE HANDS OF VIOLENT MEXICAN CARTELS.

AND THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT WANTS TO KNOW HOW.

MEXICO IS PUSHING THE U-S TO INVESTIGATE AND STEM THE FLOW OF ITS MILITARY-GRADE WEAPONS — ITEMS NEVER DESIGNED FOR CIVILIAN USE — INTO THE HANDS OF MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS–

MEXICO’S TOP DIPLOMAT ANNOUNCED THE LATEST ALARMING FINDINGS, SAYING THE GOVERNMENT HAD FOUND WEAPONS ENTERING HER COUNTRY THAT ARE FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE U.S. ARMY.

SOME TRAFFICKERS HAVE EVEN GONE SO FAR AS TO SHARE IMAGES OF THE WEAPONRY ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

MONDAY, THE U-S AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO, KEN SALAZAR, ADMITTED HE JUST BECAME AWARE OF DRUG CARTELS ACQUIRING U-S WEAPONRY LAST WEEK– DURING A MEETING WITH MEXICAN OFFICIALS. BUT HE NOW VOWS IT’S A PRIORITY OF THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO CURB THE ILLEGAL TRANSFER OF U-S MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO SMUGGLERS.

THE MEXICAN ARMY CONFIRMED IN JUNE IT CONFISCATED MORE THAN 220 MACHINE GUNS, NEARLY 60 GRENADE LAUNCHERS AND A DOZEN ROCKET LAUNCHERS FROM DRUG CARTELS SINCE LATE 20-18.

PART OF SOLVING THE PROBLEM IS FIGURING OUT WHERE THE U-S ARMS CAME FROM IN THE FIRST PLACE. THERE ARE SEVERAL THEORIES ON HOW THEY ENDED UP IN MEXICO– FROM LEFTOVER WEAPONRY DUE TO U-S ARMED CONFLICTS IN CENTRAL AMERICA IN THE 80S– TO WEAPONS MANUFACTURERS REPORTEDLY SELLING THEIR DEVICES ON THE BLACK MARKET.

AS VIOLENCE ESCALATES IN MEXICO, ADDING WEAPONS INTO THE FOLD MEANT FOR HIGHLY TRAINED SOLDIERS, BRINGS ANOTHER LAYER OF DANGER FOR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, WHO ACKNOWLEDGE, THEY’RE SOMETIMES OUTGUNNED BY CRIMINALS WITH REPORTED SELF-MADE ARMORED VEHICLES AND “BOMB-DROPPING” DRONES.

WHILE U-S MILITARY EQUIPMENT SEIZURES ARE A FRESHLY-ANNOUNCED DEVELOPMENT–

MEXICO HAS LONG-DEALT WITH VIOLENCE DUE TO DRUG CARTELS– AND IN MANY INSTANCES HAS BLAMED THE U-S FOR GUN DEATHS– PARTICULARLY U-S GUN MANUFACTURERS. THE BLACK MARKET FOR U-S-MADE CIVILIAN WEAPONS IS A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS– WITH THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT ESTIMATING AROUND 70 PERCENT OF WEAPONS ILLEGALLY TRAFFICKED INTO THE COUNTRY ARE FROM THE U-S.

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