Less Than 24 Percent of Guns Seized by Mexican Authorities in 2008 Were Traced Back to U.S

Less Than 24 Percent of Guns Seized by Mexican Authorities in 2008 Were Traced Back to U.S

I guess the Obozo Administration lied to us...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
By Edwin Mora

Bullet impacts are seen on the windshield of a car seized from alleged drug traffickers at a military base in Reynosa, Mexico, March 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)(CNSNews.com) - Less than 24 percent of the guns seized last year by Mexican authorities, mostly from drug trafficking organizations, were traced back to the United States, according to data released in a report by the Government Accountability Office.

Of the 30,000 guns seized by Mexican authorities in 2008, only 7,200, or approximately 24 percent, were submitted to the U.S. for tracing. Of those 7,200 firearms, 6,700 (or about 22 percent) were actually determined to have originated in the United States.

The country of origin for the remaining 22,800 guns seized by Mexico that were not traced cannot be known.

“Government of Mexico officials told us almost all of them were seized in operations against the drug cartels,” said the GAO report.

“In 2008, of the almost 30,000 firearms that the Mexican Attorney General’s office said were seized, only around 7,200, or approximately a quarter, were submitted to ATF for tracing,” stated the June 18 report.

“U.S. and Mexican government and law enforcement officials indicated Mexican government officials had not submitted all of the firearms tracing information due to bureaucratic obstacles between the Mexican military and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office and a lack of sufficient number of trained staff to use eTrace,” said the report.

“eTrace” is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms electronic system for tracing firearms.

Corruption in the Mexican government was also a problem.

“According to Mexican government officials, corruption pervades all levels of Mexican law enforcement—federal, state, and local,” said the report.

“U.S. government and law enforcement officials told us that corruption inhibits their efforts to ensure a capable and reliable partnership with Mexican government entities in combating arms trafficking,” said the report. “For instance, U.S. law enforcement officials we met with along the Southwest border and in Mexico told us they attempt to work with Mexican counterparts in law enforcement, the military, and Attorney General’s Office whenever possible. However, incidents of corruption among Mexican officials compel them to be selective about the information they share and with whom they share it.”

In addition, CNSNews.com reported on April 2 that, according to an ATF spokesperson, the bureau does not actually count, acquire, inspect and warehouse the weapons confiscated in Mexico, but relies on the Mexican government to submit information on the guns such as the serial number, make, and model for e-tracing.

Jess Ford, the GAO’s director of international affairs and trade, told CNSNews.com that the calculations in the report about he flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico are based on the guns submitted for tracing during the observation period.

“The calculations [of the percentage of guns seized in Mexico and traced to the U.S.] depend on what the Mexican government is submitting for tracing,” Ford told CNSNews.com.

He pointed out that one of the GAO’s recommendations is to expand the tracing system. “The more guns that are traced the better information we’ll have,” he said.

Ford testified before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, about the June 18 GAO report, saying that 90 percent of traceable guns seized over the last 5 years originate from the United States compared to 87 percent over the last 3 years.

“We determined that over 20,000, or 87 percent, of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2008 originated in the United States,” Ford testified.

“Over 90 percent of the firearms [or approximately 11,700] seized in Mexico and traced over the last 3 years have come from the United States,” he said.

Ford told CNSNews.com the GAO is confident of the accuracy of the calculations involving the guns that are in fact traced. What is not known are the facts about the guns that are not submitted for tracing.

“We think that number is accurate [90 percent],” Ford said. “What we don’t know is the guns that aren’t traced.

“The people that are quibbling about the 90 percent are saying: Well, you’re not talking about all the guns that we don’t know anything about, which can skew the total coming from the United States,” said Ford.

But he said, “The 90 percent is real numbers. It’s based off 20,000 guns that were traced to the United States in the last five years.”

The ATF and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have also pointed out that the percentage of guns traced to the U.S. is limited to the number of guns submitted for tracing.

“There are guns sitting in warehouses down there,” an ATF spokesperson told CNSNews.com on April 2. “We would not know that [the overall percentage of guns trafficked into Mexico that come from the United States] because we are only limited to the weapons sent to be traced.”

ICE Special Agent Matt Allen told Fox News on April 2: “Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market.”

The pervasive corruption in the Mexican government was also a limiting factor.

“In addition, concerns about corruption among some Mexican government officials limit the United States’ ability to establish a full partnership with Mexican government entities in combating illicit arms trafficking to Mexico,” said the report.

The GAO’s Ford pointed out: “We’re not saying everyone in Mexico is corrupt.”

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