Regular readers will be aware that I have contacts in federal, state and local law enforcement in several parts of the country (not surprising, having worked in an ancillary law enforcement role myself). On several occasions in the past, as we've discussed in these pages, they've provided tips and insights about what they're seeing and hearing on the streets about our crime situation. That information has generally proven accurate over time.
I'm currently hearing a number of rumors from them - not just idle chatter, but serious concern - that the number of military-grade weapons being smuggled into the USA is getting seriously worrying. They report that the Mexican cartels, in particular, are finding weapon smuggling to be a very profitable sideline to their usual dealings in drugs and illegal aliens. Word is that military firearms - assault rifles with full-auto capability, sniper rifles, machine guns, hand grenades, and possibly a few rocket launchers - are being bought from corrupt troops and/or stolen from militaries in Mexico and points south, and sent north to meet the demand. There's even one report that shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles have been discussed.
There's a growing supply of such weapons in South America, from nations such as Venezuela (which makes its own AK-47 variant) and China (whose criminals already supply the cartels with most of their fentanyl and other hard drugs, and would find little difficulty in offering weapons as well). Where there's such a free supply, available at relatively low cost, it fuels demand. There's also the factor of illegal imports from other nations and regions. According to US Customs & Border Protection, "Each year, more than 11 million maritime containers arrive at our seaports. At land borders, another 11 million arrive by truck and 2.7 million by rail." That's 25 million containers a year - about 65,000 per day, 365 days a year - and that figure excludes air cargo containers. It's clearly impossible to screen them all. Reports suggest that only about "2% to 10%" are examined in detail. Who knows what's being smuggled in the other 90%?
Reports of inbound weapons smuggling have been isolated for some time, but now they appear to be more widespread and more frequent. Informed speculation is that there's a serious demand for these weapons, not just from individuals, but from organized groups. My informants haven't shared any information on who or what those groups might be, but they say the demand is such that it can't be just random purchases. A few have surmised that, in the face of organized black crime and politicized crime (e.g. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the like) against white communities, hispanic groups are arming themselves to resist such pressure in their neighborhoods, should it happen. I'd say that's not unlikely. There's already a lot of tension and animosity between black and hispanic criminal and street gangs. If the former think they're going to use the current political and social climate to establish dominance over the latter, I suspect they're about to be enlightened . . . forcibly.
There's also the possible terrorist angle. We know Hezbollah and Iran have been active in Mexico, Venezuela and other parts of South America for years. It's beyond reasonable doubt that they've infiltrated terrorist "sleeper cells" into the USA through our notoriously porous southern border, and those cells may be "arming up" in preparation for action. Certainly, their parent organization(s) and nation(s) show much less fear of and respect for the Biden administration than they did for its predecessor. However, I doubt there are enough of those cells to justify the apparent surge in weapons trafficking. There has to be a bigger demand from other sources.
I note that Larry Lambert (who's in a position to know) says this about the north-bound weapons trade. Bold print is his emphasis.
... contrary to what the media asserts, a lot of military grade weapons are being smuggled into the USA to end up in the hands of every-day folks. Most of it is Chinese made. Some of it comes out of the inventories of Central and South American militaries, bought by cartels for their own uses, but also smuggled into the US because of the demand. The demand for military grade weapons exceeds the demand for illegal narcotics.
Friends, I don't know the truth of the matter. All I have to go on is third-party reports and speculation. However, those reports and that speculation come from sources I've learned to trust. In the past, they've given me the "straight skinny" about developments, and subsequent events have confirmed their information. Therefore, I'm taking these reports seriously. If any of you have anything to add about the subject, I'm sure we'd all be interested if you'll please share it with us in Comments.