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Mexico demands U.S. investigate how American military-grade weapons are being smuggled to drug cartels

  Although the border crisis and the invasion of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is rightfully grabbing a lot of headline...

 Although the border crisis and the invasion of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is rightfully grabbing a lot of headlines, there is another border-related story that cannot be ignored: the influx of military-grade U.S. weapons making their way into Mexico – and into the hands of its drug cartels.

The Mexican government is now demanding an “urgent” investigation into how Mexican drug cartels managed to obtain American-grade weapons. Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Alicia Barcena said: “The (Mexican) Defense Department has warned the United States about weapons entering Mexico that are for the exclusive use of the U.S. army. It is very urgent that an investigation into this be carried out.”

Cartels have boasted about obtaining military-grade U.S. weapons and displayed them openly on social media. They are presenting a considerable challenge for Mexican authorities as they struggle to deal with the drug cartels, who sometimes have better weapons than they do. Although the Mexican marines and army possess superior firepower, the weapons drug cartels possess often outclass the ones used by other Mexican law enforcement bodies.

A U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) spokesperson, Kristina Mastropasqua, said that the weapons do not just pose a danger to the public but also to “law enforcement agents on both sides of the border as well.”

She explained that the ATF has an initiative known as Operation Southbound aimed at disrupting firearms trafficking from the U.S. down into Mexico, and it focuses on the four border states in the southwest, which is where many of these weapons originate.

She added: “Cross-border firearms trafficking is diffuse, does not only occur on the border, and does not always include dozens of firearms being illegally transported at once; often only a few are trafficked, and they originate in states far from the southwest border."

Since late 2018, the Mexican army claims it has seized 221 fully automatic machine guns, along with 56 grenade launchers and 12 rocket launchers from cartels.

Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said that the Jalisco New Generation cartel was caught with five rocket launchers; they seized four from the Sinaloa cartel and a further three from other cartels.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar told reporters that Mexican officials had raised their concerns about the matter during meetings. He said: “70% of the weapons that cause violence here in Mexico come from the United States,” adding that stemming the flow is a top priority.

In Mexico, only low-caliber firearms are allowed, and they are subject to strict regulations. As a result, semi-automatic rifles permitted for civilian use in the U.S. are often smuggled into Mexico, and the country has even launched legal action against American gun manufacturers and shops on the grounds that they contribute to the violence there.

American citizens are helping Mexican drug cartels smuggle weapons

A report by CBS News last fall based on exclusively obtained intelligence documents and interviews with officials showed that the U.S. government has known for years that American citizens have been helping Mexican drug cartels smuggle an arsenal of military weapons out of the United States, but they have not done much to stop them. The outlet reported that these operations move as many as a million firearms across the border each year, including belt-fed guns and grenade launchers.

Cartels pay Americans to purchase weapons in gun stores and then ship them across the southwest border using a network of brokers and couriers.

This situation is yet another reason that stricter controls are needed at the border. Weapons getting into the hands of drug cartels is bad for both Mexicans and Americans, as it empowers the cartels to protect their drug operations and outgun authorities while fueling the fentanyl epidemic that is killing so many Americans.

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