The Mexican Army claims that it has seized hundreds of fully automatic machine guns, dozens of grenade launchers, and a dozen rocket launchers from drug cartels since 2018. Now, Mexico’s top diplomats are demanding the U.S. conduct an investigation to find out how these military-grade weapons are being smuggled into the country.
According to The Associated Press, Alicia Bárcena, Foreign Relations Secretary, called for immediate attention to the issue.
“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,” Bárcena said.
Ken Salazar, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, confirmed that the issue had been addressed in meetings recently. Salazar pledged that the U.S. would work closely with Mexico’s Defense Department to resolve the issue.
“We are going to look into it, we are committed to working with Sedena to see what’s going on,” Salazar said.
The weapons were not identified as sourced directly from the U.S. military. Other potential sources for the weapons may come from black-market trading or previous conflicts in the region. Mexican laws permit only low-caliber weapons to be owned by civilians, and the sale or trade of these weapons is strictly regulated. Previously, Mexico has filed lawsuits against American gun manufacturers, stating that they were aware that their weapons were being resold on the black market.
While the lawsuit was dismissed in 2022, an appeals court in Boston revived the suit earlier this week. The appeal was granted on the grounds that the federal law Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which protects gun manufactures from misuse of their product by individuals, does not extend protection beyond the U.S. border.
In the complaint, Mexico claims that over 2% of the weapons made by the named companies, which include Beretta USA, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt’s Manufacturing Co and Glock, are smuggled across the border, amounting to over 500,000 weapons annually. The manufacturers cited as defendants in the suit deny any wrongdoing or knowledge of any activities alleged in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit revival and plea for U.S. investigation come just one month after Reuters detailed a potential gun-smuggling ring in Racine, Wisconsin. U.S. federal arms-trafficking investigators allege that eight people facilitated illegal gun trade to the Mexican cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty, and a jury trial was set for May 2024. Regarding the indictments, Alejandro Celoria, legal advisor to Mexico’s foreign ministry, said the U.S. firearms business should be more careful to ‘prevent their products from falling into the wrong hands.”