With Operation Fast and Furious headlining the news, there is no doubt civilian arms have been trafficked into Mexico. However, many of the arms used by Mexican cartels are NOT supplied by civilian gun outlets in the United States. Based upon the statistics I have compiled, our State and Defense Departments may be the premier suppliers of weaponry to Mexican drug cartels — not the US civilian.
From 2003-2009, over 150,000 Mexican soldiers deserted from their ranks. Drug cartels became so confident in their recruitment of military personnel that they posted help wanted ads for hit men, traffickers, and guards. When these soldiers desert, their US-supplied weapons (grenades, sniper rifles, assault weapons, etc.) often accompany them over to the cartels. In 2008 and 2009, 13,792 and 20,530 small arms were exported to Mexico from the US. Over 92% of these arms were civilian legal semi-automatic or non-automatic firearms, a number eerily similar to the debunked 90% number echoed by the ATF. A 2008 State Department memo to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi shows a $1,000,000 shipment of select fire M4A2 assault rifles to the Mexican Federal Police Force, (AKA Federales) one of the most corrupt Mexican government agencies.
The most recent numbers from 2010 show the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) — the State Department agency responsible for overseeing the exportation of military goods — authorized the transfer of 2.5 million units of small arms, weapon optics, silencers, and related components. In that same year, over 11 million units of ammunition and 127,000 units of explosive ordnance were cleared for exportation to Mexico. This amounted to $25 million worth of small arms, ammunition, and explosives shipped to Mexico authorized by our State Department.
In recent months, allegations have surfaced that the State Department’s US Direct Commercial Sales Program and DDTC may have directly shipped arms to the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel’s hit squad. The Zetas were at one time trained and supplied with American weaponry by our own 7th Special Forces Group in the early 1990s. These claims against the State Department arose even after the DDTC recognized the Americas Region in 2009 as having the highest rate of unfavorable traces for their Blue Lantern Program. The Blue Lantern Program involves traces performed by the DDTC to ensure exported military weaponry does not end up with an unauthorized nation or organization. For the Americas, 80% of traces where unauthorized end users were identified involved small arms. Data specifically for Mexico was unavailable from the State Department.
From 2008 to 2009, when President Obama entered office, Defense Department expenditures to Mexico have increased from $12 million to $34,000,000 and State Department expenditures increased from $7.2 million to $356 million. While 2010 data is currently unavailable, it appears our foreign aid to Mexico has continued to increase for 2011. These statistics imply the State and Defense Departments may very well be the top suppliers of small arms to Mexico’s drug cartels and not civilians. Only the information obtained from ATF Firearms Traces will tell. However, those records are not public. After the DOJ and the White House knowingly pursued attempts at new gun control legislation, we are left to ask the question; is this just another case of government stupidity or is this something more premeditated?