SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Border Report) — Ev Meade, Director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, says more and more guns legally purchased in the U.S. are finding their way into Mexico.
According to Meade it’s a problem that has gotten worse in the last 20 years.
“It’s an open secret, particularly here along the border, that people purchase guns in U.S. gun stores for purposes of smuggling them across the border,” Meade said. “It’s an iron river of guns that comes from the U.S. into Mexico.”
Meade says most of the guns in Mexico, especially ones used in crimes, can be traced to the United States.
“The thing is, they’re all illegal and by and large, you can’t own a gun in Mexico, you have to be licensed by the defense ministry,” he said.
A panel discussion this week organized by the Mexican Consulate in San Diego described how at least 70% of the guns in Mexico came from north of the border, and that 72% of all the murders in Mexico were the result of someone using a weapon originally purchased in the U.S.
“And they’re involved in not just shoot-outs among organized crime, but they are involved in the killings of journalists, activists, political assassinations, murders and kidnappings,” Meade said.
“The number of deaths have shot up since 2004. What happened in 2004? The expiration of the Brady Bill in the United States, which meant a person could walk into a Bass Pro Shop or Walmart and buy an AR-15 or buy two or three of them and hand them off to another guy in the parking lot who takes them to Mexico and hands them over to organized crime,” he added.
According to Meade, many of the guns in Mexico are actually purchased by the Mexican military but often fall in the hands of organized crime.
“It’s a never ending problem,” he said.
Recently, Border Report Correspondent Julian Resendiz reported on how the Mexican Government is planning on asking the U.S. for more help in using technology at the border to spot and prevent guns from reaching Mexico.
“The Mexican government is going to propose specific actions to U.S. authorities, including intrusive and non-intrusive inspections of vehicles at the border, as well as the use of technology to stop arms trafficking,” said Fabian Medina Hernandez, chief of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.
United States Customs Agents do have spot inspections at the border from time to time looking for guns in cars heading into Mexico.
Their counterparts in Mexico are supposed to do the same thing.
“Mexico planned to really stepped up their inspections but never hired personnel to do it, and they’re completely undermanned and simply can do inspections necessary to do that, and on the U.S. side though, we have to prioritize it, but it’s never been prioritized,” Meade said.
According to Meade, until it does become a priority, this so-called river of guns won’t stop flowing from the U.S. into Mexico.