Note: First one from SEDNA, Mexican Army which records complete
details on firearms, but now will no longer make them available. The
next two from from WSJ for those who may have missed them. Pretty
good overall, except fail to point out couple things. Govt. of
Mexico has imported thousands of firearms from U.S. in last few
years. Many of them have been stolen, lost, loaned, issued, to
organized crime. These U.S. made and officially exported arms are
issued to all levels of Mexican military and law enforcement, and
somehow many of them make their way to the cartels. There is an
extensive paper trail, someone needs to get access to it, and then
Mexico has to show us the guns. Same deal for firearms made in other
countries. Information on number of deserters from military is no
longer available, but has been in the thousands. It is common
knowledge that thousands in law enforcement are on cartel payrolls.
Not to forget that the Mexican cartels are multi-national operations,
with access to weapons worldwide. Not all firearms crossing the
border go to organized crime, the Mexican people really want to be
able to defend themselves. Even if they have to take the weapons
from the police as seen a few days ago.
Citizen self-defense multiply
José Gil Olmos
The confiscation of weapons is growing 152% per year
Were located more than 83 thousand in 2010, this year is 10,000
OPERATIONAL. On May 11, 2010, the Mexican army seized a large
quantity of firearms caliber in a training camp of "Los Zetas" in the
state of Nuevo León (Photo: FILE THE UNIVERSAL)
The first year of President Felipe Calderón -2007 - the end of 2010,
the confiscation of weapons by the Ministry of National Defense
(SEDENA) increased 1,603%, from 5,216 secured to 83,613.
The confiscation of weapons made by the National Defense from drug
cartels in Mexico has increased 152% per year.
In 2010 were located more than 83,000 weapons, while this year as
they have secured almost 10, 000, discloses information provided by
The states where there have been major seizures of weapons are: Baja
California, Michoacan, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas, and the
caliber rifles are: 5.56 mm, 7.62 mm, such as AK47s and R15 among
others, the short 357, 38, 40, 45, 10 and 5.7, better known as "cop
Even when not required for many of the weapons seized only by
fighting drug trafficking are long or short, or how many have been
located and acquired in U.S. territory, the United States is placed
by the Department of Defense as the main country of manufacture of
Since 2007 there has been a significant annual increase in seizures
of weapons by the military's, and the data show that in 2010 the
seizures, which totaled 83,613, grew 83% over the confiscated in 2009
when seized 45,630.
Meanwhile, detailed information on National Defense in 2009 increased
seizures and had been an increase of 126% compared to 2008, when the
agency reported that 20,164 weapons seized.
But the data show that in 2008 and there had been another significant
increase in the number of weapons seized from 2007, growing 286%,
from 5,216 weapons in December 2006 to December 2007, 20,164 seized
In January this year to 11 May the Ministry of Defence has secured
9,892 weapons in various operations to combat drug trafficking
organizations operating throughout the Republic, being the month of
March which was the highest number of seizures.
Purpose of the seized
The monthly seizure of weapons by the military, it was revealed that
the unit seized in January 2,269 weapons; in February 2,165; in
March 2,631, in April the figure dropped to 1,997 and in the first 11
days of May, 830 weapons were seized.
The total was sent to secure weapons storage facility in the First
Battalion of War Materials of the Ministry of Defence, where after a
thorough registration process is safeguarded with electronic
surveillance and biometrics. Then, the completion of legal procedures
to define their use and final destination.
The Myth of Big-Time Gun Trafficking
Crime weapons usually come from petty theft and opportunistic
dealers, not from an organized black market
By GARY KLECK
In recent decades, advocates of gun control have taken their cause to
court, bringing lawsuits that charge the gun industry with negligence
because of how it distributes firearms. Large-scale traffickers,
these suits claim, purchase guns in big batches from corrupt or
irresponsible dealers, especially those operating in states with weak
gun control laws. These guns are then moved to places with stricter
laws, where they are sold, supposedly at high markups, to criminal
Advocates argue that gun manufacturers and distributors are aware of
these illegal practices and could stop them, if they chose to, by
refusing to supply guns to the problematic dealers.
An American Gun in Mexico
This theory has been embraced by the federal Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence and even some scholars. They argue that disrupting
trafficking operations can have a substantial impact on rates of
criminal gun possession and gun violence.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support this set of
The best available study, by researchers at the University of
Massachusetts, Amherst, indicates that criminals obtain guns from a
wide variety of largely interchangeable low-volume sources. Criminals
usually get their guns in one of three ways: as a byproduct of
thefts, primarily residential burglaries; by buying guns one at a
time from friends and relatives who neither regularly sell guns nor
act as "straw purchasers" (legally qualified buyers who purchase guns
for those prohibited from doing so); or, if they have no criminal
convictions, by lawfully buying guns from licensed dealers.
As my colleague Kevin Wang and I found by examining federal crime
data, the overall volume of gun theft alone is huge—at least 400,000
to 600,000 guns are stolen each year in the U.S. This is easily
enough to resupply the entire criminal population with guns even if
they were completely disarmed at the start of each year.
Based on the findings of law enforcement authorities, which we also
gathered for our study, the typical trafficking operation handles
fewer than a dozen guns each. The ATF uncovers fewer than 15 high-
volume operations (involving over 250 guns) in the country each year.
High-volume trafficking, with or without the involvement of corrupt
or negligent dealers, probably supplies less than 1% of the guns in
criminal hands. Illicit gun sellers are instead more likely to be
burglars who sell a few guns (typically fewer than a half dozen a
year) along with all the other saleable property that they steal.
The view that extensive, organized trafficking is important in arming
American criminals is based on isolated anecdotes about the
occasional large-scale trafficking effort uncovered by law
enforcement authorities and on interpretations of highly ambiguous
ATF gun "trace" data.
When a criminal is arrested and found to be in possession of a
firearm, the police may ask the ATF to trace the gun. This means that
its past history, as officially recorded on various legal forms, is
established, ideally up to the point when it was first sold as a new
The problem with using these data is that only some crime guns are
traced, and those that are traced are not representative of the full
set of crime guns. Based on such traces, some claim, for example,
that most Mexican crime guns originate with U.S. gun dealers.
But it's likely that police in Mexico submit for ATF tracing only
those crime guns that they believe originated in the U.S. This would
be reasonable, since those are the ones that the ATF is likely to be
able to trace, but it is not a sample from which to generalize.
Even if guns of American origin account for only a small share of all
Mexican crime guns, they would comprise nearly all of those submitted
by the Mexican authorities for tracing by the ATF.
As for the U.S., when deciding which crime guns to trace, police tend
to pick the newer ones because successfully tracing them can provide
relatively fresh leads concerning who recently purchased the guns and
what dealers sold them. Likewise, police who think (correctly or not)
that crime guns in their city are coming from out-of-state sources
are more likely to ask the ATF to trace the very guns that they
believe to meet that description.
Because the "newness" of crime guns and out-of-state origins are
regarded as indicators that the guns were trafficked, trace data
provide a misleading picture of the sources of guns used in crimes,
exaggerating the share that appears to have been trafficked. As Kevin
Wang and I concluded, trafficking levels have no measurable effect on
the incidence of gun possession by criminals or the rate of violent
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that strategies aimed at reducing
gun trafficking are unlikely to have any measurable effect on gun
violence in the U.S. or Mexico. Criminals have plenty of other ways
to get guns.
—Mr. Kleck is a professor of criminology at Florida State University
and the author of "Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control."
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page C2
Note: anyone else notice a common thread in this one?
An American Gun in Mexico
How does a weapon made in Tennessee, sold in Missouri and traded in
Texas end up at a drug shootout in Chihuahua?
MORE IN LIFE & CULTURE »
By EVAN PEREZ
Late on the night of March 8, 2008, a Mexican military patrol in the
northern city of Chihuahua responded to neighbors' complaints about
armed men. The soldiers, part of Mexico's ongoing effort to curb
narco-trafficking violence, were met with a fusillade of grenades and
gunfire. In the end, six men whom officials described as members of a
drug gang lay dead.
On the government side, five soldiers were injured and one, Capt.
David Mendoza Gómez, was killed. Mexican authorities found a cache of
ammunition, grenades and high-powered firearms—including a .50
caliber Barrett sniper rifle. An imposing weapon, nearly 60 inches
long, the long-range semiautomatic rifle is popular among the world's
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it
traced the rifle to John Shipley, a Federal Bureau of Investigation
agent in El Paso, Texas. Mr. Shipley was also a gun hobbyist who had
collected and sold dozens of firearms. He bought the rifle in August
2007—for personal use, he said—paying $8,500 to a Missouri dealer
over the Internet, and he sold it days later for $12,000 to an El
Paso sheriff's deputy, to whom he had sold other firearms. From there
it was sold to a Mexican national who resold it in Mexico,
authorities said in court filings.
The rifle's path from the Barrett company factory in Murfreesboro,
Tenn., to a dealer in Missouri, buyers in Texas, and eventually to a
narco-trafficking gang in Mexico is one small illustration of an
intractable cross-border trade that the U.S. and Mexican governments
say is fueling violence that has taken the lives of thousands.
Mexico has strict legal restrictions on gun ownership, with most
legitimate sales processed through one tiny store on a military base
on the periphery of Mexico City. Yet the country is awash in guns,
thanks mainly to the criminal cartels. Some of the same traffickers
who move drugs and illegal immigrants north also move guns south,
federal law-enforcement officials say.
In recent years, ATF officials say, traffickers have changed tactics
to evade law enforcement. Rather than passing through a single
middleman, guns may change hands four or five times or more en route
to a Mexican cartel member. Many traffickers prefer to tap small-time
buyers for a handful of purchases at a time. The odds are in
traffickers' favor as they hide illicit cargo amid more than 100,000
border crossings a day at El Paso.
"The more prolific [they are] and the more money they have, the more
they build different layers to protect themselves," says Mike
Bouchard, former assistant director of ATF field operations. "They
take [guns] home and wait a week or two. They know ATF and law
enforcement don't have resources to sit on a house and do surveillance."
In Washington, a separate battle is brewing over what to do about gun
trafficking. In recent months, Republican lawmakers have accused the
Obama administration of approving an ATF investigative tactic that
allegedly allowed hundreds of guns to be sold to suspected
traffickers, including some guns that ended up in Mexico. One of the
firearms from the ATF's operation, called Fast and Furious, was
recovered at the scene of a gun battle with suspected smugglers in
which a U.S. border agent was killed in December. Attorney General
Eric Holder has ordered a Justice Department inspector general to
investigate the operation.
The ATF says that Fast and Furious, which was not involved in Mr.
Shipley's case, was aimed at tracking the smuggling to higher-level
traffickers, who run well-financed and sophisticated networks of
"straw" buyers—people who, often for a few hundred dollars, buy
firearms on behalf of others who can't pass background checks or who
don't want records of their purchases. Lawmakers and gun-rights
groups say that the ATF lost track of the guns and let them into the
hands of Mexican traffickers. Gun-rights groups accuse the agency of
harassing legal buyers and dealers while using tactics that
exacerbate the problem.
Government officials say that ATF agents struggle to stem the trade
of a product that is legal and enjoys constitutional protection in
the U.S., bolstered by a pro-gun-rights ruling last year by the
Supreme Court. People can buy dozens of firearms legally and then
sell them later, so long as the guns are for personal use. Large-
scale dealing in firearms requires a federal license, but the
dividing line between such ventures and smaller-scale traders such as
Mr. Shipley is hard to draw.
Gun-rights groups are lobbying against a proposed ATF regulation that
would require gun dealers to report sales of multiple rifles and
other long-guns, matching regulations already on the books for sales
of pistols. The ATF says the regulations would help it to keep up
with shifting cartel preferences for high-powered rifles.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle
Association, says there's ample evidence to indicate that the vast
majority of weapons used by drug cartels in Mexico come not from the
U.S., but from Russia and China and via Guatemala and other Central
American countries. He suggests that the Obama administration should
improve enforcement of existing laws, rather than proposing new laws.
"If there's one gun that's going from the U.S. to Mexico, we're
against it and they should prosecute it," Mr. LaPierre said. "They
have plenty of laws to do that."
The investigation into the .50 caliber Barrett rifle recovered in
Mexico has crystallized two rival perspectives on the U.S.-Mexico gun
trade: that of the government, which is under pressure to curb
illicit sales, and that of gun-rights supporters, who believe that
overzealous federal agents are targeting gun hobbyists.
Mr. Shipley, a married father of two and the son of a retired U.S.
Army colonel, is a former Army helicopter pilot who served in the
first Gulf War. He was injured in a helicopter accident, according to
his family and attorneys, and joined the FBI in 1996, assigned to El
Paso. He joined an FBI SWAT team two years later and trained as a
sniper, earning honors as a top shooter.
In the government's telling in court, he was also running an illegal
gun dealership. After the rifle Mr. Shipley had sold ended up at the
Chihuahua crime scene, ATF agents searched his home in May 2008,
seizing 28 firearms, cash and records. An El Paso grand jury indicted
him in June 2009 on six counts, including dealing firearms without a
license. Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Shipley lied on ATF forms when
he said that he was purchasing firearms for his personal use. They
did not allege that he knew he was part of a trafficking operation.
Mr. Shipley pleaded not guilty.
Through his attorney, Robert Pérez, Mr. Shipley declined to be
interviewed for this article. Mr. Pérez said that there is no
evidence the rifle was actually used in the Chihuahua firefight.
The Myth of Big-Time Gun Trafficking
A portrait of Mr. Shipley can be drawn from court documents, his
attorneys and from accounts on a website maintained by his parents to
support his defense. The site includes photos of Mr. Shipley as a
young Army Reserve officer, with close-cropped hair and an athletic
build. One shows him dressed in formal uniform at a military ball
beside a pretty blonde named Kathy, who became his wife in 1997. More
recent photos from hunting and other recreational trips show the same
muscular arms but a beefier build.
Mr. Shipley testified in court that the gun sales helped to build his
collection, which included nine handed down from his grandfather. By
his account, he also bought guns to learn more about them, and when
he sold them, he tried to make a profit, but not in an effort to make
his livelihood as a dealer.
"What he was doing was seeking to enhance his collection and seeking
to advance his professional skills, and to keep his proficiency up,"
said Mr. Pérez, the lawyer, at the opening of Mr. Shipley's trial in
The Shipley website highlights an enthusiast's love of firearms.
"John has loved guns since he was about 2 years old. His educational
tinker toys and Lincoln logs were transformed into guns," the family
Mr. Shipley was thrilled to be paid for a job that allowed him to
practice his marksmanship, his family says, and stepped up his
firearms sales in 2005 to pay for his wife's medical treatment and
expenses when the couple adopted their daughter in September 2004 and
their son in August 2005.
Prosecutors tell a different tale—of a gun dealer who they say lied
to cover his tracks and to obstruct the investigation.
ATF agents tracking the .50 caliber Barrett rifle recovered in
Chihuahua were initially pleased when they contacted Mr. Shipley in
late March 2008 about the sale of the gun.
Mr. Shipley told investigators that he had sold the rifle to Luis
Armando Rodriguez, a jailer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
At the time, Mr. Rodriguez was already under the scrutiny of ATF
agents for possible trafficking, prosecutors alleged in the Shipley
case. They were excited by the lead, authorities say, because of the
short "time-to-crime" period—less than seven months between the El
Paso sale and the time the gun turned up in Chihuahua. Normally that
period averages eight to 11 years, an ATF official said.
"They thought they had a great case," lead prosecutor Greg McDonald
later told jurors. The agents believed a fellow federal agent would
help to break the case open against a suspected prolific weapons
trafficker, the prosecution alleged. But instead, Mr. Shipley met the
agents in a parking lot on the west side of El Paso and handed over
false sales records, laying "a trail of deceit," Mr. McDonald said.
Mr. Shipley's lawyers said that the records were turned over in haste
and owners aren't required to keep them anyway.
Mr. Rodriguez frequently crossed the border, and investigators
believed he often sold firearms there, according to evidence
presented in the Shipley case. But investigators struggled to make a
case against him for smuggling.
Mr. Rodriguez, in an interview, said of the prosecutors' suspicions
against him: "It's a flat-out lie." Prosecutors tried to get him to
testify against Mr. Shipley, but he refused, Mr. Rodriguez said,
adding, "To me John Shipley didn't do anything wrong. We didn't do
anything wrong, everything we did was legal."
Mr. Rodriguez said he told investigators that he sold the .50 caliber
Barrett through a consignment store in El Paso, but prosecutors said
they couldn't find records for it. Instead, in a search of his home,
they found a handwritten sales record for the .50 caliber rifle and a
copy of the buyer's driver's license, they said. The buyer was a
Mexican national who was already under investigation in another gun
trafficking case, according to prosecutors. Mr. Rodriguez, in the
interview, said the sale record "wasn't from me, it was from the store."
The buyer told investigators he regularly traveled across the border
from Mexico carrying orders for specific weapons to buy. He told
authorities that he sometimes bought firearms in parking lots of gun
stores or from other straw purchasers on behalf of a Mexican gun
trafficking organization. In all, a group of straw purchasers
involved in the separate trafficking case bought at least 110
firearms from multiple sellers for illegal shipment to Mexico,
prosecutors alleged. The buyer of the .50 caliber Barrett was
indicted along with several others, and he pleaded guilty to charges
including smuggling goods from the U.S.
Mr. Rodriguez pleaded guilty in 2008 to a single count of possession
of an unregistered firearm and served one year in prison. In April a
federal judge appointed a trustee to sell dozens of firearms and a
supply of ammunition that Mr. Rodriguez owned, since as a convicted
felon he could no longer possess firearms.
Mr. Bouchard, the former ATF official, who wasn't involved in the
Shipley and Rodriguez cases, finds fault with current gun laws that
hamper gun-trafficking investigations.
View Full Image
Katie Orlinsky for The Wall Street Journal
Relatives of people killed after clashes on Jan. 8 left more than 28
dead in Acapulco, Mexico.
"The straw-purchase statute is very vague," he says. "You have to
prove the person went in with the intention of deceiving the
government and the gun dealer by saying they were buying for
themselves but were really buying for someone else." Buyers can
easily explain their actions even if they buy and sell firearms over
short periods of time, he says.
At Mr. Shipley's trial, his lawyer, Mr. Pérez, probed the fine line
between an illegal dealer and a hobbyist who sells guns legally.
ATF case agent Frank Henderson testified that Mr. Shipley violated
the law by making "repetitive purchase[s] and sale[s] with a profit."
"Well, there's no dispute that liquidating a collection…that's
absolutely fine, right?" Mr. Pérez asked.
"That's fine," Mr. Henderson said.
"But you're also entitled to sell to enhance your collection, isn't
"Right," Mr. Henderson answered. "To sell a firearm that was already
in your collection."
"How long do I have to have it before it's part of my collection,"
Mr. Pérez asked.
"There's no…" Mr. Henderson paused. "There's no definite answer on
Prosecutors countered the defense by producing emails and Internet
listings that they claimed showed that Mr. Shipley used his law
enforcement connections to bargain for lower prices on guns, then
quickly offered them for sale at a profit.
In one instance, the prosecutor Mr. McDonald told jurors, records
showed "the buyer gave Mr. Shipley a check before Mr. Shipley ever
bought the gun." Prosecutors alleged that this indicated that he was
acting as any dealer would. Mr. Shipley's attorneys responded that
the buyer never ordered the gun from Mr. Shipley but instead only
heard that Mr. Shipley had bought the weapon and offered a higher
price to buy it from him.
Jurors deliberated for three hours before finding Mr. Shipley guilty
of all six counts. He has appealed his conviction, but the case has
been complicated by the fact that records from one day of the trial,
including Mr. Shipley's testimony, have been lost by the court.
Mr. Shipley is set to surrender June 10 to begin serving his two-year
sentence. His lawyer says he still hopes to be exonerated and to
return to his job at the FBI.
Write to Evan Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org