Thursday, March 19, 2009

More on guns and the Mexican drug wars

From an article in the Los Angeles Times:
... It was a brazen assault, not just because it targeted the city's police station, but for the choice of weapon: grenades.

The Feb. 21 attack on police headquarters in coastal Zihuatanejo, which injured four people, fit a disturbing trend of Mexico's drug wars. Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, 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.

Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semiauto- matic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. [emphasis added]

The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in the Mexican government's 2-year-old war against drug organizations, which are evolving into a more militarized force prepared to take on Mexican army troops, deployed by the thousands, as well as to attack each other.

These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. Some of the weapons are left over from the wars that the United States helped fight in Central America, U.S. officials said. [emphasis added]
Grenades or military-grade weapons have been reported in at least 10 Mexican states during the last six months, used against police headquarters, city halls, a U.S. consulate, TV stations and senior Mexican officials. In a three-week period ended March 6, five grenade attacks were launched on police patrols and stations and the home of a commander in the south-central state of Michoacan. Other such attacks occurred in five other states during the same period.
U.S. law enforcement officials say they detected the smuggling of grenades and other military-grade equipment into Mexico about a year and a half ago, and observed a sharp uptick in the use of the weapons about six months ago.

The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years, in contrast to 59 seized over the previous two years.

The enhanced weaponry represents a wide sampling from the international arms bazaar, with grenades and launchers produced by U.S., South Korean, Israeli, Spanish or former Soviet bloc manufacturers. Many had been sold legally to governments, including Mexico's, and then were diverted onto the black market. Some may be sold directly to the traffickers by corrupt elements of national armies, authorities and experts say. [emphasis added]
Grenades used in three attacks in Monterrey and Texas were linked to a single Monterrey warehouse, packed with explosives and high-caliber guns, reportedly belonging to the Gulf cartel. Mexican authorities raided the warehouse in October and seized the cache, which contained South Korean-manufactured grenades similar to the American M67 fragmentation grenade.
In addition to grenades, high-powered guns such as the .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle have become a weapon of choice in narcotics traffickers' arsenals, Mangan said. Unlike grenades and antitank weapons, the .50-caliber guns can be obtained by ordinary citizens in the U.S. and smuggled easily into Mexico, like the tons of assault rifles and automatic pistols.
The police commander, Pablo Rodriguez, said his officers are terrified. They are armed with semiautomatic .223-caliber rifles made in Italy, Germany and Mexico. The rifles, with folding stocks, are snazzy, but they are no match for the weapons being stockpiled by the drug cartels. ...

Article here. At least the LA Times gets a couple of things right, like the fact that grenades and anti-tank weapons aren't legally available to "ordinary citizens". And the important fact that "[m]ost of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea[.]"

Naturally, they try to blame the U.S. as much as they can (remember, "it's all our fault", goes the party line), and the juxtaposition of terms like those evil mean "weapon of choice" .50 Cal rifles, that are "easily smuggled" into poor Mexico, right along with the "tons" of "assault rifles and automatic pistols." Even though new select-fire assault rifles and true "automatic pistols" (full-auto capable machine pistols) aren't available (sadly, and unconstitutionally) to "ordinary citizens" either.

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