Trading in Blood
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Some of those goods crossing the border, however, are not welcome – namely guns.
Mexican law enforcement officials say that American guns have become Mexico’s problem, citing research asserting that half a million American firearms cross the southern border annually into Mexico. About 70 percent of guns found at crime scenes in Mexico originate in the US, they add.
This trade results in bloodshed. Gun-related homicide rates are high in Mexico. The stories behind the statistics illustrate the scale and style of the crisis, though. In 2021, for example, armed men rampaged through the Mexican border city of Reynosa, killing 15 people over the course of an eight-hour shooting spree, wrote Foreign Policy magazine. Authorities killed four gunmen, who were later linked to drug cartels. They found American-manufactured rifles and ammunition in their weapons cache.
As a result, Mexico has been fighting via the US courts to stop the flow.
A few years ago, explained the Economist, the Mexican government launched lawsuits in American courts to hold US gun manufacturers liable for “negligently, recklessly and sometimes unlawfully sell guns in full awareness that they are likely to end up in the hands of criminal organizations.”
One lawsuit targeting gunmakers demanded $10 billion, noted Border Report. Another targeted gun dealers in Arizona.
American law enforcement provided the Mexican government with evidence for its claims. As the Dallas Morning News reported, American officials believe that most Mexican cartels obtain their guns in the Lone Star State. They didn’t attempt to stop this trade, however, until the cartels started flooding Texas with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is the latest scourge in the sad history of narcotics. Now, they are facing serious challenges in shutting down the well-established gun pipeline.
In 2022, a federal district court judge in Massachusetts threw out the $10 billion lawsuit, saying the law prevented the Mexican government from bringing forward such a case, according to Texas Public Radio. But Mexico appealed, added Reuters. The appellate court has yet to decide.
Writing an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Mexican journalist Leon Krauze said everyone involved in the cross-border gun trade, from the American gun sellers in Arizona to the people whom drug cartels pay to serve as “straw men” who actually carry out the in-store purchases of the firearms, know that they are perpetuating a bloody business. It is too lucrative, though. Meanwhile, the sellers insist they are helping people exercise their right to self-defense.
Many Americans, however, fear that terrorists from around the world might be crossing from Mexico into the US with the drugs and the migrants who easily enter the country illegally, day after day, in search of a haven from violence, says NBC News.