NOTE: The following what we have been telling people for long time
now, and explains the drying up of info on arms seizures /
recoveries. Info on make, model and S/N, which used to be released.
( They don't know? Vehicles seized routinely have make, model, VIN
and license plate info released and if it was reported stolen.) By
sheer coincidence about the same time U.S. aid dollars started flowing.
A very good thing that someone has finally directed the resources to
this issue. Another source, hard to believe, is the UN.
Reliable eyeballs have seen a lot of U.S.& allies manufactured arms
in hands of "authorities". And then turning up in reports of arms
recovered. As we have also been writing.
April 18, 2011 Latest Video Reports on GlobalResearchTV.com
The Mexican Drug War Has Become A Hot Market for U.S. Weapons Sales
U.S.-Backed Programs Supplying the Firepower for Mexico's Soaring
by Bill Conroy
Felipe Calderón's Drug War Has Become Hot Market for U.S. Arms Trade
The dollar value of U.S. private-sector weapons shipments to Mexico
in fiscal year 2009 exceeded the value of private arms shipments to
two other major conflict regions elsewhere in the world, Iraq and
Afghanistan, and even outpaced the value of arms shipped to one of
the United States' staunchest allies, Israel.
U.S. private-sector suppliers shipped a total of $177 million worth
of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft,
firearms and explosives — to Mexico in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept.
30 of that year.
By comparison, over the same period, private arms companies in the
U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126
million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.
In fact, Colombia, the source of most of the world's cocaine and a
major battlefront in the so-called war on drugs, received only $30
million in private-sector arms shipments from the U.S. in fiscal 2009.
The onslaught of weapons that hit Mexico in fiscal 2009 via these
legal commercial exports is multiplied even further by the thousands
of additional illegal weapons that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allegedly allowed to cross the
border into Mexico, unchecked, as part of what appears to be a
seriously flawed operation known as Fast and Furious — which was
launched in October 2009.
This double whammy of deadly firepower pouring into Mexico through
these U.S.-sanctioned programs also coincides with a major spike in
Mexico's murder rate over the same period.
The revelation of Mexico's emergence as a leading market for the
private-sector arms trade in fiscal 2009 surfaced after an
examination of the most recently available figures for the State
Department program that oversees foreign arms sales by U.S. companies.
Under that program, the U.S. State Department requires private
companies in the United States to obtain an export license in order
to sell defense hardware or services to foreign purchasers — which
include both government units and private buyers in other countries.
These arms deals are known as Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). Each
year, the State Department issues a report tallying the volume and
dollar amount of DCS items approved for export and shipped — with the
most recent report covering fiscal 2009.
Narco News reported in March 2009 that the deadliest of the weapons
now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the
U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts,
appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-
sector arms exports authorized under programs such as DCS.
Between 2005 and 2009, nearly $60 billion worth of U.S. defense
articles were exported globally by U.S. private companies via the DCS
program, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO)
In addition to the $177 million in defense hardware shipped by
private U.S. companies to Mexico in fiscal 2009, some $204 million in
arms were shipped to Mexico in fiscal year 2008, according to DCS
data compiled by the State Department. Now, war zones like Iraq and
Afghanistan dwarfed Mexico in terms of DCS arms shipments in fiscal
2008, with a total of $3.8 billion collectively, but in terms of
actual DCS arms shipments in fiscal 2009, according to the State
Department data, Mexico beat out both of them — as private-sector
arms shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan fell off sharply.
At the same time that hundreds of millions of dollars in legal arms
shipments were crossing the border into Mexico though the DCS
program, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or
the ATF, allegedly was allowing thousands of illegally purchased
firearms to be smuggled into Mexico by warring narco-trafficking
As part of its Fast and Furious operation, launched in October 2009,
some 2,000 or more firearms illegally purchased in the U.S. were
allegedly allowed to "walk" (or be smuggled under ATF's watch) across
the border in a supposed effort by the federal law enforcement agency
to target the kingpins behind Mexico's gun-running enterprises, ATF
This flood of weapons, including high-powered assault rifles and even
military-grade munitions, coursing into Mexico in fiscal 2008 and
fiscal 2009 via the DCS program and ATF's Fast and Furious seems to
have been, in part, the catalyst for a huge spike in narco-related
bloodshed in the country.
According to a report issued in February of this year by the Trans-
Border Institute at the University of San Diego, narco-trafficking-
related homicides in Mexico jumped from 2,826 in 2007 to 6,837 in
2008, and spiked again in 2009, hitting a record 9,614. In 2010, the
homicide mark shot up to 15,273.
Those three years (2008-2010) account for the bulk of the nearly
40,000 drug-war murders since President Felipe Calderon of Mexico
declared his war on the "cartels" in late 2006 and subsequently
inserted the Mexican military into that battle.
It is clear that most of the guns allowed to cross the border under
ATF's Fast and Furious operation went directly into the hands of
criminals, given those guns were purchased as part of criminal
conspiracies being tracked by ATF.
However, even though serious narco-corruption exists within law
enforcement and the military in Mexico (the very parties who are the
end-users of legally imported weapons), the path that DCS arms
shipment diversions follow to the criminal world remains illusive.
The whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, though, recently released a
State Department cable, drafted in November 2009, that sheds some
light on how these diversions seem to be carried out. But first, it's
important to understand the path of DCS weapons shipped to Mexico.
Jason Greer, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Political-
Military Affairs at the Department of State, told Narco News
previously that "all firearms licenses approved by [the State
Department] for commercial resale in Mexico are exported to the
Ministry of Defense (MOD), Mexico."
The MOD is the import authority for firearms and is also responsible
for licensing of Mexican firearms dealers. Upon receipt of the
firearms, the MOD transfers the firearms to the end-user authorized
on the [State Department-issued] export license.
The Mexican Ministry of Defense, of course, oversees the Mexican
military. In fact, a reading of Mexico's firearms law reveals that
the Defense Ministry has a monopoly on approving and overseeing all
licenses, sales, transport and storage of arms and munitions in
Mexico, whether for private-sector players or other government units
— including municipal, state and federal law enforcement units.
So, if you are a smart narco-trafficker, and they are smart, it might
pay to spread some money and influence around Mexico's Ministry of
Defense, or to have your people inside the organizations that are the
ultimate recipients of the weapons (such as Mexico's local, state and
federal security forces) to assure the necessary diversion of
firearms to your cause.
And it is that latter scenario that the State Department cable
released by WikiLeaks earlier this month reveals is likely the
scenario in play. Essentially, the cable establishes state-level
government employees, such as the police — many of whom are on the
payrolls of narco-trafficking organizations — as the weak link in the
Following are the key passages from the cable, drafted on Nov. 30,
2009, which reveals that the ultimate destination of an assault
weapon found at a crime scene — one of a batch of more than 1,000
rifles shipped via the DCS program — was the "government" in the
Mexican state of Michoacan.
Blue lantern coordinators [who are charged monitoring DCS weapons
shipments] requested that Poloff [political officers] investigate the
circumstances surrounding the recovery of an U.S. licensed AR-15
rifle from a Mexican crime scene and substantiate the chain of
custody from the supplier to the end user. The investigative branch
of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR CENAPI) used E-trace to
determine that the last legal point of sale was [U.S.-based gun
manufacturer] Bushmaster International, LLC. Realizing that the
recovered weapon was part of a USG [U.S. government] licensed [DCS]
sale, Bushmaster notified the State Department.
… This investigation tracked the chain of custody for the weapon
through the following entities: the U.S. supplier, the U.S.
manufacture representative in Mexico, the Mexican customs-broker, the
Mexican Army, and the State Government of Michoacan.
…. On the basis of this and similar cases, [emphasis added] it is not
evident that government officials at the state [level in Mexico]
apply strict enforcement measures to track the chain of custody of
weapons once SEDENA [Mexico's Secretariat of National Defense, which
oversees the Army] transfers them from its custody to the custody of
state officials. Given the lack of accountability for weapons once
they arrive at the state level, U.S. law enforcement agencies have
fair reason to worry that a number of weapons simply "disappear."
… Post believes both the USG and the GOM [government of Mexico] need
to take a more systematic approach to tracking weapon transfers to
the state level and beyond to the final end user. We support the Blue
Lantern Coordinator's proposal that his office bundle, according to
region, the cases of firearms recovered from crime scenes. Mission
Mexico's ICE and ATF Attaches would then approach the Mexico Attorney
General PGR's International Relations Office with a list of the
serial numbers of confiscated weapons that had been transferred to
state authorities and request a fuller accounting for how these
weapons ended up in the hands of criminals. …
And yet another case of DCS weapons shipments coming under the
scrutiny of State Department investigators is revealed in a separate
set of U.S. Embassy cables made public by WikiLeaks.
In one of those cables, released on April 4, the State Department's
Defense Trade Controls Compliance office orders a review of a
shipment of rifles and ammunition "of significantly heavy caliber"
that had been directed to "the presidential guard, or Estado Mayor
Presidencial [emphasis added]."
The cable notes that the Estado Mayor "has never previously been
party to a U.S. export license for firearms or ammunition."
"This check is to confirm receipt of these defense articles and
verify security of the items," the cable states.
The end result of that check is not known, because follow-up cables
have not been made available, at least at this point, by WikiLeaks.
However, another State Department cable released by WikiLeaks on Feb.
21 of this year points out that "a mid-level Mexican Army major was
arrested in late December 2008 for assisting drug traffickers and
providing them with limited information about the activities and
travel plans of Mexican President Felipe Calderon."
That Mexican Army major, according to the State Department cable, had
been "assigned to the Estado Mayor [emphasis added] … the unit
responsible for protecting Mexico's president, to secure the
periphery around the president's location" — and the same unit that
had acquired the high-powered ammunition through the DCS program.
Narco News queried officials with several think tanks in Washington,
D.C., who have expertise in the arms trade or organized crime in
Mexico, to get their read on DCS arms diversions in Mexico.
Andrew Selee, director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, was
asked if he believed that the diversion of licensed U.S. arms sales
to criminal elements in Mexico is a major problem.
His response: "It's an intriguing point."
Matt Schroeder, director of the Federation of American Scientists'
Arms Sales Monitoring Project, replied to the same question by saying:
I know of no specific reports of diversion of firearms and other
weapons sold under a DCS license, but I also have not conducted
research specifically on that topic.
When asked to comment on the evidence contained in the State
Department cables released by WikiLeaks, Schroeder said the Arms
Sales Monitoring Project does "not post, cite or comment on WikiLeaks
Global Research Articles by Bill Conroy