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Posted: 6/17/2009 7:36:37 PM EST
U.S. lacks a strategy to stop arms trafficking to Mexico, report says
From the Los Angeles Times

The GAO study confirms a growing number of U.S.-made weapons are being smuggled south to Mexico's criminal cartels.
By Josh Meyer

6:20 PM PDT, June 17, 2009

Reporting from Washington — The United States lacks a coordinated strategy to stem the flow of weapons across its southern border, a failure that has fueled the rise of powerful criminal cartels and violence in Mexico, according to a government watchdog agency report being released Thursday.

The report by the congressional Government Accountability Office represents the first federal assessment of the issue and offers blistering conclusions that likely will impact the debate over the role of U.S. weaponry as Mexican violence threatens to spill across the border.

A draft of the GAO report confirms that a growing number of increasingly lethal, U.S.-made weapons are being smuggled into Mexico and comprise more than 90% of firearms seized by authorities there.

The report also cites recent U.S. intelligence indicating that most of the weapons are being smuggled in specifically for the syndicates, and are being used not only against the Mexican government but also to help the cartels in their efforts to control drug distribution in U.S. cities.

"The U.S. government lacks a strategy to address arms trafficking to Mexico," the report says in blunt terms. "Individual U.S. agencies have undertaken a variety of activities and projects to combat arms trafficking to Mexico, but they are not part of a comprehensive U.S. government-wide strategy for addressing the problem."

Obama administration officials said that although they could not comment on a report that has not been released publicly, they have taken steps in recent months to upgrade efforts to stem the illegal flow of U.S. weapons to Mexico, long a source of frustration to Mexican authorities.

Earlier this month, for instance, the administration announced a new Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, which includes a section on arms trafficking.

The GAO report's authors, however, said that strategy and similar Obama administration efforts are embryonic and unlikely to significantly improve the situation quickly. They also said the broader $1.4-billion Bush-era effort known as the Merida Initiative provides no dedicated funding to address the issue of weapons trafficking.

In the meantime, illegally obtained U.S. weapons, including an increasing number of automatic rifles, are being used to kill thousands of Mexican police, soldiers, elected officials and civilians, the report said.

Jess T. Ford, the GAO's director of International Affairs and Trade, is scheduled to deliver testimony on the findings at a House hearing Thursday.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere that is holding the hearing, said he was troubled by the GAO's findings.

"It is simply unacceptable that the United States not only consumes the majority of the drugs flowing from Mexico but also arms the very cartels that contribute to the daily violence that is devastating Mexico," he said.

josh.meyer@latimes.com

Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:40:24 PM EST
Mine the border. It's for the good of Mexico!
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:47:42 PM EST
ATF, ICE fail to coordinate at border, report says

By DEVLIN BARRETT and EILEEN SULLIVAN Associated Press
June 17, 2009, 9:08PM

WASHINGTON — Government efforts to stop the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico have suffered in recent years from having no clear plan to combat gunrunners affiliated with drug cartels, investigators have concluded.

The Government Accountability Office, which is delivering its findings to Congress on Thursday, noted that federal agencies only recently began coordinating with Mexican counterparts on ways to stop gunrunning along the border.

GAO investigators were critical of the two principal U.S. agencies — Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — for not working together.

Until early June, the GAO says, “the U.S. government did not have a strategy that explicitly addressed arms trafficking to Mexico.”

Investigators said that without a strategy, “individual U.S. agencies have undertaken a variety of activities and projects to combat arms trafficking to Mexico.”

Citing ATF data, the investigator Jess T. Ford says that over the past three years, more than 90 percent of the firearms traced after being seized in Mexico have come from the U.S. The figure is slightly less over a five-year period.

“While it is impossible to know how many firearms are illegally trafficked into Mexico in a given year, over 20,000, or around 87 percent, of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced over the past 5 years originated in the United States,” the GAO’s Ford says in testimony prepared for a House subcommittee hearing on Thursday. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., who chairs the subcommittee, said there should have been an anti-gunrunning strategy in place since October 2007 when the U.S. and Mexico agreed to the joint cartel-fighting Merida initiative.

“It is mind-boggling that for a year and a half, we have had no interagency strategy to address this major problem, but instead have relied on uncoordinated efforts by a variety of agencies,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. said in a statement issued ahead of Thursday’s hearing.

Engel said the firearms flowing illegally from the U.S. into Mexico have made the drug cartels’ jobs easier.

In a draft of the report, the GAO cited several examples of the miscommunication between ICE and ATF, including:

— During one operation, an ICE agent unknowingly covertly kept watch on the activities of an undercover ATF agent who was investigating a suspected trafficker.

— ATF did not tell ICE about a covert operation where ATF agents delivered weapons across the border in an attempt to ferret out the Mexican organizations receiving illegal arms. ATF should have notified ICE about the controlled attempt to illegal export weapons, the GAO said. Not coordinating raised the chances that the weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

— In some cases, ICE and ATF refused to give each other required documentation for investigations.

The two agencies were working off of a 1978 agreement about dual investigations, which was cited by the GAO as a major obstacle to coordination. An updated agreement to address the coordination problem is in the works, the report said.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:54:29 PM EST
Hmmm, I missed the part of the article that says Mexico also lacks a strategy to stop the trafficking of humans and drugs into the US. Must have just read it too fast, I'm sure its in there somewhere.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:54:32 PM EST
Are they really starting this 90% bs again.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:57:59 PM EST
Simple. US.Gov stops supplying guns to Mexican Armed Forces. When their soldiers desert, they won't have any guns to take with them, right?
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 7:59:27 PM EST
Apparently we are responsible for another country's social ills with solutions that only incur penalities for our citizens. Won't change a thing there but it will make somebody feel good.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 8:07:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/17/2009 8:09:19 PM EST by warlord]
Personally, I would like to read this GAO study that the US is contributing gun to Mexican drug lords, I would bet that it is full of holes.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 8:07:56 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/17/2009 8:09:15 PM EST by Lancair]
Originally Posted By MikeS369:
Are they really starting this 90% bs again.


It's probably true that 90% of traced firearms come from the US. The Federales confiscate a Glock with Smyrna, GA on the side, and it's a quick call to BATFE to confirm that yes, that gun was shipped to a Glock distributor in Texas.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that they also have piles of full-auto AKs and G3s that they can't trace, because they either don't have serial numbers, or the manufacturers don't exist anymore, or the manufacturers/countries aren't too keen to be labeled as a source of arms and thus aren't willing to provide S/N traces. Can you imagine the PRC jumping to chase down those Norinco bastards selling guns to the cartels?

The Mexican authorities probably aren't too keen to publicize the numbers of guns that were stolen/illegally sold from Mexican government sources, either because it makes them look incompetent or it might make them dead. BATFE or Glock isn't going to kill you for blaming them for the supply of guns to the cartels, but a General making a little cash on the side probably would.

Much easier for the Mexicans to keep blaming the gringos to the North.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 8:14:13 PM EST
So, we've been doing a poor job of helping the Mexican government deny its 110 million citizens the basic right of self defense. How is this bad news?
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 8:49:10 AM EST
BBC - US gun-smuggling curbs 'failing'

US gun-smuggling curbs 'failing'

Around 90% of guns seized in Mexico and then traced come from the US

The lack of a co-ordinated US strategy to combat the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico has fuelled drug violence there, a US government watchdog says.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is due to deliver its findings to Congress, says key US agencies have failed to work together.

Authorities in Mexico, which has seen a jump in drug-related murders, have long urged the US to tackle arms-smuggling.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in March that the US should do more.

The GAO report, which is due to be delivered to a congressional hearing on arms-trafficking later on Thursday, highlights key areas of failure, according to US media.

Individual US agencies have their own projects, the GAO report will say, "but they are not part of a comprehensive US government-wide strategy for addressing the problem".

Insatiable demand

Two key agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), have only recently increased their co-ordination with each other and with their Mexican counterparts, the GAO found.

The draft report details, for example, how one ICE agent kept watch on a suspect, unaware that he was an undercover ATF agent.

The Mexican government has long argued that Washington should do more to tackle the smuggling of weapons across the border.

Mrs Clinton, during a visit to Mexico City in March, acknowledged that the US shared responsibility for the drug violence, on account of its insatiable demand for illegal drugs and its inability to stop weapons flowing south.

Congressman Eliot Engel, who chairs the subcommittee holding the hearing, said the GAO report was troubling.

"It is simply unacceptable that the United States not only consumes the majority of the drugs flowing form Mexico, but also arms the very cartels that contribute to the daily violence that is devastating Mexico," he said.

One point contested by US gun rights groups is whether the US is actually the source for the vast majority of the illegal guns turning up in Mexico.

In 2008, some 30,000 weapons were confiscated by Mexican law enforcement officials but only 7,200 were submitted to the ATF to be traced.

The GAO acknowledges that there is insufficient data for a comprehensive study but concludes that the US, in particular the border states of Texas, California and Arizona, are the source of most of the weapons smuggled into Mexico.

"While it is impossible to know how many firearms are illegally trafficked into Mexico in a given year, over 20,000 or around 87% of firearms seized by the Mexican authorities and traced over the past five years originated in the United States," GAO investigator Jess Ford says.
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 9:32:53 AM EST
I'm telling you: if they actually put all the Border Patrol personnel at the border, instead of 50 miles in at these elaborate road-stop stations that keep asking me if I'm a US resident, we might stop it.

It is a failure of US policy and strategy that we haven't effectively utilized our resources.
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 9:48:30 AM EST
Originally Posted By Lancair:
Originally Posted By MikeS369:
Are they really starting this 90% bs again.


It's probably true that 90% of traced firearms come from the US.
.


You must be new to the debate. The 90% figure was debunked in April, hence the frustration with it being used again (and yes, your intuition is correct)
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 9:57:16 AM EST
And Mexico lacks a fucking plan to stop drug and human trafficking into the US. Tough tittie, turkeys.

Seriously-hey Mexico-Eat a bowl of dick!
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 10:09:07 AM EST
Seems like this is being played back up to make it look like an "international issue"

The UN to the rescue!!!

Oh boy....
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 10:12:11 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/18/2009 10:13:14 AM EST by Kihn]
Originally Posted By Gravity_Tester:
And Mexico lacks a fucking plan to stop drug and human trafficking into the US. Tough tittie, turkeys.

Seriously-hey Mexico-Eat a bowl of dick!


Those are 'good' crimes that have a direct or indirect positive affect on the economy of Mexico. Guns are 'bad' crimes cause who likes to dodge bullets while you are sponsoring or engaging in the 'good' crimes. This all from the Mexican politicians point of view of course.

Link Posted: 6/18/2009 10:46:29 AM EST
Maybe the US should get some help from the crack Mexican illegal immigration team that has a solid and effective plan for keeping the Mexican citizens from traipsing all over the place.

Oh, wait...
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