Many anti-gun organizations have claimed for years that smuggled guns from the USA are arming drug cartels in Mexico. Like most of their claims, this one is seriously flawed. It's true that some stolen, illegally purchased and smuggled guns reach Mexico from the USA; but these appear to represent only about 10% of the guns that are recovered from criminals there. They're certainly not the main "combat" weapons of the narco-terrorists, who rely on full-auto assault rifles for their primary firepower (weapons which are heavily restricted in the USA, and aren't available for sale in most gunshops).
It's now becoming more clear where these full-auto assault rifles and other heavy weapons are coming from. Many are, indeed, being supplied from the USA . . . in the form of US military aid to Central American nations. Corrupt politicians and officials in those countries are passing these weapons to the drug cartels, as recent reports make clear.
- Guatemala admits that elements of its armed services have armed and trained the Zetas, one of the most vicious and dangerous of Mexico's narco-terrorist organizations. Supplies passed to the Zetas reportedly include assault rifles, machine-guns, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, landmines and military uniforms.
- Weapons supplied by the USA to Honduras have likewise ended up in the hands of drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, including anti-tank rockets and grenades.
The Sacramento Bee reports that drug cartel activity in Central America is becoming commonplace, and so brazen as to be almost flaunting their presence and relative immunity from interference.
Even by the brazen standards of cocaine cowboys, what happened a few months ago at an air force base here [Honduras] set new levels for audacity: Drug traffickers snuck onto the heavily guarded base and retrieved a confiscated plane.
Confederates at the airbase had already fueled and warmed up the motors of the Beechcraft Super King Air 200, a workhorse of the cocaine trade. Within days, it would be again hauling dope from South America.
The stunt was a black eye for the Honduran military, and just one of many signs that parts of Central America have fallen into the maw of international organized crime, threatening decades of U.S. efforts to stanch the tidal wave of drugs headed to American cities and towns.
Washington has spent billions of dollars to help push drug cartels out of Colombia, and to confront them in Mexico. Now they've muscled their way into Central America, opening a new chapter in the drug war that almost certainly will exact further cost on U.S. taxpayers as American authorities confront drug gangs on a new frontier.
The extent of the infiltration is breathtaking. Drug cartels now control large parts of the countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. They've bought off politicians and police, moved cocaine processing laboratories up from the Andes, and are obtaining rockets and other heavy armament that make them more than a match for Central America's weak militaries.
Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, chief of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, told a March 30 Pentagon news briefing that Central America "has probably become the deadliest zone in the world" outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Homicide rates in cities such as San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras are soaring, making them as deadly as Mogadishu, Somalia, or the Taliban home base of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The political influence of the drug gangs is burgeoning. One former member of Honduras' Council Against Drug Trafficking estimated that fully 10 percent of members of the Honduran congress have links to drug traffickers.
"The overall situation is alarming, definitely," said Antonio Luigi Mazzitelli, the head of the U.N. office on Drugs and Crime for Mexico and Central America.
The heavy footprint of the traffickers is visible everywhere.
There's more at the link.
So, the next time you hear anti-gun individuals, organizations or reporters try to claim that the Mexican drug wars are fueled by smuggled US guns, and therefore private gun sales and purchases need to be more heavily regulated . . . point out to them that they're misinformed. The problem could be more realistically and effectively addressed if the US Government were to suspend all military arms sales to Central American nations!