Mexico wants a gun registry in the Southwest US

Mexico's Congress voted to formally ask the United States Senate to create a registry of all commercialized firearms in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Although the motion will have little impact in the US, it shows the gun control issue continues to resonate on both sides of the border. 

The measure was approved January 9 by Mexico's Permanent Commission, the government body that meets when the Senate and the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, is in recess. 

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) senator who introduced the proposal said it was intended to make it easier to trace guns used in violent attacks, reports Mexican newspaper Informador. Close to 60,000 people were killed during the six-year presidency of Felipe Calderon, who left office in December. 

The US Southwest is a significant source of weaponry for Mexico's criminal organizations, who typically purchase firearms from US gun stores via a middleman or "straw buyer." 

In one indication of the reach of these arms trafficking networks, a semi-automatic pistol recently found at the scene of one shootout in Mexico has been traced back to a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent, as Minneapolis newspaper the Star Tribune reports. The semi-automatic was found at the scene of the shootout that killed a Mexican beauty queen.

The gun was traced back to an ATF agent who worked in Arizona and played a prominent role in the so-called "Fast and Furious" scandal, which charged the ATF had willingly allowed weapons to "walk" across the border in an attempt to prosecute the main purchasers of the guns in Mexico. The scheme failed to reach the high level targets, and some of the weapons were later used in attacks on US law enforcement prompting a congressional investigation and hearings. The ATF agent apparently sold the weapon online for $1,100 to a US citizen in Arizona. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The vote will likely prove to be a symbolic one. Gun laws in the US Southwest vary, with stricter controls enforced in California, compared to Arizona and Texas. It is unlikely that the US Senate will begin to pressure these areas to enforce more stringent controls anytime soon, although President Barack Obama has said that he is contemplating presidential decrees that would make it more difficult to obtain assault weapons nationwide. This threat follows the shooting deaths of 27 people, most of them children, in a Newtown, Connecticut school. 

The US is not the only illicit source of weaponry in Mexico. Guns stolen or illegally sold by the Mexican military, the owner of the only legal gun store in the country, are also thought to provide criminal groups with firepower. Some soldiers and police in Central America also illegally supply weapons to organized criminal groups throughout the region.

Still, the US is by far the largest supplier of weapons to Mexican criminal organizations, according to numerous ATF agents interviewed by InSight Crime.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...