Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are US weapons fueling the drug wars in Mexico?

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.

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!



Wraith said...

It goes far deeper than you want to know.

Peter said...

Wraith; yes, I've written about Project Gunrunner on this blog on several occasions.


Anonymous said...

It is the insatiable appetite of the US for drugs and greed that feeds the drug war. But gun grabbers have never let common sense get in the way of their opinions. We have spent 3 decades and hundreds of billions of dollars on this "war on drugs"aw and the net effect has been that in the early 1980s cocaine sold in the US for around $3000 an ounce. Today it sells for $900 an ounce. Knowing what you know about supply and demand what does that tell you? Our prisons are full and as soon as we take one dealer off the street another one steps in and takes his place. It's way past time to rethink the whole strategy.

Shrimp said...

"...point out to them that they're misinformed."

And teach the pig to whistle and the cat to sing and other impossible sayings.

Like most of their anti-rights brethern, they'll ignore it, change the subject or point out how you are just some sort of "gun loon," gun-nut, or some other dismissive insult.

If you've ever had the displeasure to attempt to argue with jadegold, you know what I mean.

I'm not saying that every one of them will react that way when presented with facts, but most of them do.

Jack'o'all Trades said...

I'd even go one step further than withdrawing military support from Central America. I'd advocate for the US to set up it's own pipeline, and basically give away clean drugs in a controlled environment and put the cartels out of business. And by giving 'it' away to addicts, imagine how the domestic crime rates would be affected. And when you come in to get your drugs, we'll make available programs to get you off of them if you want. I bet all of this would cost a fraction of what is spent on the "war on drugs". And have far greater success both domestically and internationally.

But... I won't hold my breath...

Dad29 said...

Even "experts" tend to get it wrong. Very wrong, indeed:

Ah, well.