Guns to Central and South America


June 12, 2011, 12:04 PM
On July 9, 2008, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a report entitled "Honduras: Military Weapons Fuel Black Arms Market". According to the DIA report, three light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) were recovered in Mexico City in January 2008, and one was recovered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in April 2008.

Six more LAWs were recovered on San Andres Island, Colombia in March 2008. Factory markings analysis of lot and serial numbers undertaken by DIA's Military Materiel Identification Division (CHUCKWAGON)/MIO-5) indicates that these LAWs were part of a shipment of fifty sent to the Honduran 2nd Infantry Battalion's TESON training element. The LAWs were originally transferred to Honduras in 1992 as part of a U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. (C/HND)

The dollar value of U.S. private-sector weapons shipments to Mexico in fiscal year 2009 exceeded the value of private arms shipments to two other major conflict regions elsewhere in the world, Iraq and Afghanistan, and even outpaced the value of arms shipped to one of the United States’ staunchest allies, Israel.

U.S. private-sector suppliers shipped a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives — to Mexico in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30 of that year.

By comparison, over the same period, private arms companies in the U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126 million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.

In fact, Colombia, the source of most of the world’s cocaine and a major battlefront in the so-called war on drugs, received only $30 million in private-sector arms shipments from the U.S. in fiscal 2009.

The onslaught of weapons that hit Mexico in fiscal 2009 via these legal commercial exports is multiplied even further by the thousands of additional illegal weapons that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allegedly allowed to cross the border into Mexico, unchecked, as part of what appears to be a seriously flawed operation known as Fast and Furious — which was launched in October 2009.

Late last month, the Associate Press reported that Mexican authorities discovered a stash of weapons in a hidden room in a home in Juarez, Mexico — just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Included in that cache were “three anti-aircraft guns, dozens of grenades, a grenade launcher, AK-47s and other high-powered weapons,” the AP reported.

It appears all the information is readily available on where the majority of weapons that end up in the Cartels hands come from. ATF is a small player compared to the big boys. Compartmentalized information is exactly that. If you do not have a need to know you never get the big picture. Different agencies do not necessarily share information much less secret plans with other agencies.

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June 12, 2011, 12:16 PM
To be sure, weapons shipped to Latin America during the 1980s and early 1990s Cold War era are not the only source of small arms (which include machine guns, grenades and anti-tank weapons, or LAWs) now creating havoc in the drug war in Mexico — which is spreading in its violent scope across the major drug transit routes in Central America as well. Weapons shipments by U.S. private companies, sanctioned by the U.S. State Department and Pentagon, are still flooding Latin America in quantities tallied in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually – often delivered to corrupt state players that divert them to the dirty narco wars of our era

Even with that grim report coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala way back in 2006, the U.S. State Department sanctioned the delivery of up to $36 million in arms shipments, via private U.S. companies, to that nation in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, according to government reports

And this pipeline of arms was put in motion even while reports continue to come out of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala painting a dire picture of the continued collapse of civil society in that nation due to the drug war.

From a State Department cable drafted in early 2009:

Confronted by the threat from three narco-trafficking groups, including recently arrived "Zetas" from Mexico, the local Rule of Law (ROL) apparatus in the [Guatemalan] northern city of Coban [Guatemala] is no longer capable of dealing with the most serious kinds of crime. What is happening there is typical of many rural areas of Guatemala. Sources tell us that Coban's police are corrupt and allied with traffickers, and sometimes even provide them escort. Some judges and prosecutors are too frightened to do their jobs properly; others are in league with the traffickers

July 1, 2011, 10:50 PM
forced Guatemalan radio stations to broadcast a threat of war on society, according to the Associated Press. The alleged Zetas said that “war will start in this country, in shopping malls, schools and police stations.”

July 1, 2011, 11:01 PM
And what has changed since the beginning of the drug war in the early 80s?
Oh right! Nothing.

July 2, 2011, 10:31 AM
This thread could have been topical if it had been presented without all of the WoD and societal overtones. Sadly, it was not, and so it is off topic for THR.

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