I started posting about this recently; today Fox News has a report,
The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S
While 90 percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total number of guns reaching Mexico.
There’s just one problem with the 90 percent “statistic” and it’s a big one:
It’s just not true.
In fact, it’s not even close. By all accounts, it’s probably around 17 percent.
What’s true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency’s assistant director, “is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.”
But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.
“Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.
So where are the guns coming from?
— The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.
— Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.
– South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.
— Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.
— The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.
— Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America’s cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.
The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years — but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.
Don’t expect this to improve. Back in 2004 Hugo Chavez was making weapons deals with Russia; by 2006 he had purchased 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103s of the latest model, and by next year a new Venezuelan factory is expected to be operational and producing 50,000 Kalashnikovs per year.
Who is going to buy those weapons? That production capacity vastly exceeds the needs of the Venezuelan military (which in 2006 was estimated at 82,000 personnel).
Russia is the number one weapons supplier to Latin American countries: Russia is not limiting itself to Mexico and Venezuela – they have armaments and weapons deals with Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, according to this report. This report adds Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay to the list of clients.
While the weapons Russia is selling to Latin American countries will go towards updating those countries’ arsenals, the drug cartels have huge amounts of money with which they can pay cash. The cartels also are investing in military-grade weapons (h/t Instapundit):
including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.
They are also acquiring and using explosives.