U.S. Faces Delays in Effort to Keep Guns Out of Mexico
As politicians call for increased border security, the joint U.S.-Mexican government effort to stem the flow of guns into Mexico has been delayed significantly by technological problems and a lack of training, The Washington Post reports today:
In the past four years, Mexico has submitted information about more than 74,000 guns seized south of the border that the government suspects were smuggled from the United States. But much of the data is so incomplete as to be useless and has not helped authorities bust the gunrunners who supply the Mexican mafias with their vast armories, officials said.
According to U.S. agents working here, Mexican prosecutors have not made a single major arms trafficking case. [...]
As a pillar of a $1.4 billion aid program to Mexico to fight the surging violence and corrupting power of the drug cartels, the U.S. government announced three years ago that it would provide Mexico with its proprietary eTrace Internet-based system. On Tuesday in Mexico City, U.S. and Mexican officials signed a memorandum of understanding allowing for its full implementation. [...]
But translating the program into Spanish took two years. And since its delivery almost a year ago, only a dozen Mexican agents have been trained to use it.
Efforts to stop money trafficking into Mexico are also reportedly less successful than the government had hoped. National security experts argue the best method to catch drug cartel leaders is to cut off their resources — money and guns — to force them into riskier, more visible ventures.
Drug cartel violence is responsible for more than 28,000 deaths in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón took office three years ago, including brutal mass-killings near the border. It is very difficult to purchase firearms in Mexico, and the Mexican government claims 90 percent of weapons it confiscates come from the U.S., the Post reports. (U.S. law enforcement agents — and gun lobbyists — claim the percentage is actually lower.)
So far, little of the violence in Mexico has spread to the U.S., experts say. But Republican politicians continue to push for tighter border security, claiming spillover violence is a serious threat to safety in southern border states.