According to data compiled by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography and the Secretariat of National Defense, 70% of the 200,000 weapons that illegally enter Mexico each year are made in the United States, while the remaining 30% are manufactured in Europe. Nevertheless, 87% of these arms pass through a U.S. distributor; thus, practically the entirety of the contraband weaponry introduced into Mexico comes from our northern neighbor. Around 41% of this armory enters through Texas, a figure consistent with the fact that this state is home to 5,938 of the 9,811 active gun shops in the four states that share a border with Mexico (the others being California, New Mexico and Arizona).
When relating the stats above to the fact that 70% of the 34,582 premeditated murders committed on domestic territory in 2019 were perpetrated by firearms, a figure rising to 83% in Guanajuato, the state most blighted by this crime in recent years, a picture emerges of the close link between the business of weapons manufacture and distribution in the U.S. and the violence triggered by the organized crime cartels that have constructed demonstrable extra-institutional power across a significant part of Latin America.
Washington insists on fighting drug traffickers in the principal producing or trafficking nations without broaching the industry that has converted them into the feared adversaries of police authorities and even armies. Not only is this complete nonsense from a strategic perspective, it is also proof of the hypocrisy upon which the purported efforts of the superpower to end drug trafficking are founded.
In effect, it is at the very least contradictory that the White House seeks to impose directives upon governments throughout the region in the name of the “war on drugs” while at the same time permitting a complete lack of control over arms sales to individuals, fully aware that this matériel will fall into the hands of the criminal gangs that it is at least formally attempting to eradicate.
For weapons manufacturers, this represents the dream scenario: They sell their products both to agencies tasked with combating crime as well as indirectly to the criminals; any increase in the incidence of violence engenders a boost to their profits. On the other hand, for hundreds of thousands of people, this profit translates into a loss of life, and for millions, in the impossibility of carrying out their daily activities with guarantees on physical and psychological safety, in addition to the security of their assets.
All this makes it clear that Mexican cooperation in combating drug trafficking should be subordinated to the presentation of a credible plan by the U.S. authorities to cut off the flow of arms that feeds the violence south of the border.
Without this, all efforts will be futile from the outset, and as if that were that not enough, they will be paid for with the continued suffering of communities besieged by crime.