Nuevo Laredo's Guns, Made in the U.S.A.
By Dan Feder
Ricardo Sala writes of the human costs of a military incursion into northern Mexico that is unlikely to make much of a dent in that region’s drug supplies. Another unavoidable, ugly result of this increased militarization is one the Mexican government is well aware of: a stepped-up arms race between and among narcos as they face more and better-armed enemies. And where do those gangsters get their guns? The same place everyone else does – from the United States arms industry.
The Mexican government has tried this week to highlight this underappreciated facet of the chaos in northern Mexico. The Mexican daily La Jornada reported on Tuesday:
“As part of Operation Safe Mexico, aimed at confronting and combating “disputes between organized crime gangs,” the Mexican government will request “greater cooperation” from its counterpart in the United States to stop the smuggling of “latest generation” weapons that cross its border into national territory, a trade that is “only in the hands of companies and industry” of the northern country.
“As La Jornada reported yesterday, the organized crime gangs buy much of their armaments via the Internet. Through many different ports of entry, high-caliber guns and other equipment such as grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and offensive, defensive, and gas grenades.
“Presidential spokesman Rubén Aguilar admitted this fact yesterday. ‘The high-technology arms equipment that some of these gangs have comes from the United States.’ He said that he had already spoken with Washington, as ‘their collaboration is required.’”
So far, Washington is yet to make any public response. Though the Fox administration’s statements have been all over the Mexican media, the State department simply said yesterday that, “we have not received a request from the Government of Mexico about the issue of illegal arms trade on the border.”
“Poor Mexico,” goes a popular saying, “so far from God, so close to the United States.” Poor Mexico, across the river from the world’s biggest drug market, and the world’s biggest weapon supplier. How long can Mexico’s northern neighbor hope the evaporating Rio Grande to contain what its vices and counterproductive prohibitions have wrought?