5 years, 10 months ago
Bono treats us to some of his wisdom.
“I want you to send a message to people of conscience,” he said.
“Ask them to answer the question. Why is it that all we hear on the news is how drugs are smuggled through Mexico to the United States?
“‘And we don’t hear about all the automatic weapons that are being smuggled into Mexico from the United States. Nine thousand registered arms dealers on the other side of the border. Nine thousand.
“Most of the murders committed here are from weapons sold in the United States of America,” he said.
‘We sing this for the innocents who have lost their lives in the violence here,’ he said, before continuing the song with an alternate lyric:
Late in the evening, April 15
Automatic round takes a mother and child.
Free at last, they took your life
A lioness and her pride In the name of love….’
That’s special and everything, but I guess Bono has never heard of the BATFE gunrunner scandal. Either way, he is propagating the myth that 90% of the weapons used by the Mexican drug cartels comes from the United States. But STRATFOR, whom I customarily do not reference (for reasons too complicated to explain here – perhaps I will explain later), has done a magnificent take-down of this myth.
For several years now, STRATFOR has been closely watching developments in Mexico that relate to what we consider the three wars being waged there. Those three wars are the war between the various drug cartels, the war between the government and the cartels, and the war being waged against citizens and businesses by criminals.
In addition to watching tactical developments of the cartel wars on the ground and studying the dynamics of the conflict among the various warring factions, we have also been paying close attention to the ways that both the Mexican and U.S. governments have reacted to these developments. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects to watch has been the way in which the Mexican government has tried to deflect responsibility for the cartel wars away from itself and onto the United States. According to the Mexican government, the cartel wars are not a result of corruption in Mexico or of economic and societal dynamics that leave many Mexicans marginalized and desperate to find a way to make a living. Instead, the cartel wars are due to the insatiable American appetite for narcotics and the endless stream of guns that flows from the United States into Mexico and that results in Mexican violence.
Interestingly, the part of this argument pertaining to guns has been adopted by many politicians and government officials in the United States in recent years. It has now become quite common to hear U.S. officials confidently assert that 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican drug cartels come from the United States. However, a close examination of the dynamics of the cartel wars in Mexico — and of how the oft-echoed 90 percent number was reached — clearly demonstrates that the number is more political rhetoric than empirical fact.
As we discussed in a previous analysis, the 90 percent number was derived from a June 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).
According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.
This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.
Oh well. I never liked U2’s music anyway, and I guess you don’t have to be a genius to be in a rock band.