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  • Yet Again, Media Exaggerates Scale of Gun Smuggling from U.S. Into Mexico

    The Washington Post today ran a lengthy front-page story headlined “As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border.” The title pretty much sums it up: the Post states that an “unprecedented number of American guns [are flowing] to the murderous drug cartels across the border” and that this is fueling the violent battle between drug runners and the Mexican government.

    Of course, one reason that battle has turned violent is because the Mexican government of Felipe Calderon is trying, for the first time, to crack down on the gangs, who – not surprisingly – are fighting back. The writ of the Mexican state has never run throughout Mexico, and it has often been undermined by corruption. The U.S. has much to gain from Calderon’s efforts, and it is in no way a criticism of Calderon to point out that violence in Mexico is driven by Mexican causes, and must find a Mexican solution.

    Similarly, to the extent that there is gun running across the border from the U.S. into Mexico – and it certainly does exist – this, like the illegal immigrants that cross the other way, is a testimony to the fact that neither the U.S. nor Mexico controls the border. It would be a wonderful thing if U.S. newspapers, and politicians, campaigned as vigorously for border control as they do for gun control.

    Sadly, the Post ignores the Mexican context, and sticks to the tried and true role of blaming the United States for Mexico’s problems. It breathlessly reports that twelve U.S. gun dealers “have had double-digit traces of ‘crime guns’ to their stores from Mexico.” That does not get us very far: ten is a “double-digit” number of traces. The Post singles out one gun dealer who, it claims, has had “more than 115 guns from his stores” seized in the past two years in Mexico. That is about one gun seized every week in all of Mexico.

    To back up its assertion that the U.S. is the source of most of Mexico’s guns (“statistics . . . show that 80 to 90 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico are first sold in the United States”), the Post cites the claim that “Federal authorities say that more than 60,000 U.S. guns of all types have been recovered in Mexico in the past four years.” This is a wild exaggeration. The Post is referring to an oft-cited U.S. Government Accountability Office study which shows that, of the guns seized in Mexico and given to the ATF for tracing from 2004 through 2008, approximately 87 percent originated in the U.S.

    But this number says nothing about the percentage of guns seized in Mexico that originated in the U.S., because the U.S. does not trace – because they are not of U.S. origin, and so are not submitted by Mexican authorities to the U.S. for tracing – the majority of guns seized in Mexico. According to the GAO, the number of guns seized in Mexico that have been traced back to the U.S. has ranged from 5,260 in 2005 to 1,950 in 2006 to 3,060 in 2007 to 6,700 in 2008. That is a total of about 17,000, nowhere close to 60,000.

    There really should not be any dispute about this. It is not an argument about policy. It is about nothing more, or less, than who can look up a number in a government publication more accurately. To its credit, the Post does give the National Rifle Association space for rebuttal, but it leaves the impression that “the gun lobby” is simply trying to defend a long-discredited position. The reality is that, if 60,000 guns – or 75,000, as President Calderon said in May – have been seized in Mexico in recent years, less than a third have been traced back to the U.S.

    Amazingly, the Post even acknowledges that “most guns seized in Mexico [are] not traced.” If that is so, then it is obviously impossible to know what proportion of guns came from the United States. As Jess T. Ford, the GAO’s Director of International Affairs and Trade, put it when he testified before the House in 2009, “is impossible to know how many firearms are illegally trafficked into Mexico in a given year.” By acknowledging the limited scope of Mexican tracing, the Post destroys the creditability of its claim that the vast majority of guns seized in Mexico come from the U.S.

    The Post, at least, spares its readers another round of praise for CIFTA, the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. That is a relief, because CIFTA is a bad treaty for a great many reasons. But make no mistake: these sorts of stories are part of an ongoing effort to secure CIFTA’s ratification by persuading the American public, and U.S. Senators, that CIFTA will cure Mexico’s ills. Fortunately, the Senate seems in no mood to go along. But that does not stop the treaty’s supporters from trying. It would, though, be nice if they could at least look up the numbers accurately.

    I have responded to a number of the arguments made in the comments below in this separate blog post.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    57 Responses to Yet Again, Media Exaggerates Scale of Gun Smuggling from U.S. Into Mexico

    1. Dennis Mexico says:

      Almost all the violence is one gang fighting another. The capture or killing of gang leaders causes it. Best thing the Mexican gov can do is keep capturing the leaders. Eventually it will make a difference for the good.

    2. Dave, MN says:

      I like it when they do news stories on this topic and say that drug gangs are getting their guns from shops in the US and then show a RPG….Geez like to know what store in the US sells those.

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    4. Will S., Illinois says:

      You can laugh off the charges of gun running from the US to Mexico all you want. You can defend the 2nd amendment all you want, even to the extreme of saying: anything done to prevent trafficking is bad.

      But, remember this. The drug wars in Mexico are coming North and those Cartels are the direct result of Americans. Where do you think the cartels get money from? Mexican farmers? Local thuggery? No. The money is coming from the US and we as a nation have a moral and national security imperative to stop the violence south of the border. You can say: build a wall, send back all the illegal aliens. Don't change the gun laws. It won't stop anything.

      Mexico's problem originates in the US, and unless we do something to stop the flow of money south, those guns, where-ever they come from, will be moving north.

      Guns are a minor issue compared to the money. That's the real problem.

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    6. Tom Klein, McKinney, says:

      NBC is recycling this story again online today 12/13/10: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40572312/ns/world_new

      More anti 2nd amendment stuff really.

    7. Larry B says:

      It has been reported that a high percentage of the many deserters from Mexico's military take their US made fully automatic M-16 rifles with them when they leave, either selling them to, or using them as a member of, the drug cartels. I don't recall the number of reported deserters but it was quite a large number.

      As an aside, I recently saw a surprising report that the number of murders in Mexico since the war on cartels began is comparable to the number reported in 2000 before the current war on drug cartels began. However, I would expect that the mix of those murdered has changed, since more drug related murders would now be likely compared to those from before the current Mexican war on cartels.

    8. Frank, NYC says:

      Your argument would seem to rest on the assumption that all firearms not submitted for tracing (and therefore not traced back to the US) did not, in fact come from the US, but you offer no evidence for this except to state outright that "they are not of U.S. origin, and so are not submitted by Mexican authorities to the U.S. for tracing."

      The GAO report you link to offers a number of reasons for the low rate submission, but "Mexico is able to determine that most come from elsewhere and so do not submit them for tracing" isn't one of them. Could you please link to your source for this? Thanks.

    9. Michael A., Santa Ba says:

      Bottom of the media's agenda? Twisting truth to lie for complete gun control and finally, to control American people's moves and freedoms. I also agree that those Americans with drug addiction play a significant role as they provide the main ingridient to the cartels, Money!

    10. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Just more of the same lame, anti-gun left's dream of a gun free America. What the pro-drug left does not want to discuss is that the U.S. demand for the drugs fuel this enter matter. But more important is the fact that world history proves the very first attack on citizens by a tyrannical government is to conficate all means of protection and defence (i.e. GUNS). Make no mistake, it's not about Mexico. It's about preventing American citizens from having the means to resist when Obama 250,000 man army comes marching down our streets.

    11. Dave Miller - Chelse says:

      The Washington Post and other main-stream media outlets should stop spreading distorted data analysis to support anti-gun positions.

      It has been detailed more than several times that the vast majority of guns seized in Mexico CANNOT be traced, as they were obtained through markets OTHER THEN through the U.S…..ONLY guns sourced in the U.S. can be traced, due to the current gun laws enforced it the U.S..

      Think about the logic: Fully automatic weapons are the choice of the discerning drug cartels —- Fully automatic weapons, for the most part, CANNOT be obtained in the U.S……So, when weapons are seized by law enforcement in Mexico, those guns that can be traced are traced – BUT, the majority of weapons seized CANNOT be traced because they are NOT from the U.S….Therefore, the data base is skewed, but WAPO or those in Government won't share that little tidbit because it doesn't support THEIR position on gun restrictions in the U.S.

      This article is just another example of dishonest reporting by WAPO AND the balance of the Left leaning main-stream media — WAPO or main-stream media EVER let a fact get in the way of their predetermined and ideological positions!

    12. Dave Miller - Chelse says:

      The Washington Post and other main-steam media outlets should stop spreading distorted data analysis to support your anti-gun positions.

      It has been detailed more than several times that the vast majority of guns seized in Mexico CANNOT be traced, as they were obtained through markets OTHER THEN through the U.S…..ONLY guns sourced in the U.S. can be traced, due to the current gun laws enforced it the U.S..

      Think about the logic: Fully automatic weapons are the choice of the discerning drug cartels —- Fully automatic weapons, for the most part, CANNOT be obtained in the U.S……So, when weapons are seized by law enforcement in Mexico, those guns that can be traced are traced – BUT, the majority of weapons seized CANNOT be traced because they are NOT from the U.S….Therefore, the data base is skewed, but WAPO or those in Government won't share that little tidbit because it doesn't support THEIR position on gun restrictions in the U.S.

      This article is just another example of dishonest reporting by WAPO AND the balance of the Left leaning main-stream media — WAPO or main-stream media EVER let a fact get in the way of their predetermined and ideological positions!

    13. Ed, Carson City, Nv says:

      When one considers all the tens-of-millions of guns of all kinds that the U. S. had shipped all over the world since WW-2, I am surprized that the numbers traced back here are not much larger!

    14. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      Build the wall, build it now.

      Enforce all the laws all the time.

    15. Peter Suciu says:

      Kudos for saying what needs to be said. I've been tracking this media bias for more than a year and a half at FirearmsTruth.com, and honestly few in the media bother to report the facts.

      This is not America's problem. Stop the drugs from flowing and the money to buy the guns stops and the violence stops. We should not change our Second Amendment to try to stop Mexico's problem. They'll just find guns from another source and we'll lose our rights.

      Peter Suciu
      http://www.firearmstruth.com

    16. Yardbird, El Paso says:

      In my opinion, the reporters for the Washington Post are either liars or lazy.

      For them to ignore the WikiLeak comments about Mexico's lack of control of it's southern border ignores the arms that cross into the country from the South, it's coastlines and it's own military.

    17. Ryan says:

      The carnage down south IS OUR FAULT!!!

      Remember Prohibition? When WE THE PEOPLE give up our freedoms and liberties to a federal government we give up our responsibility. Crime went through the roof for ten years over night it was gone. The same could happen down south. Repeal ALL BAD drug laws and look what would happen. 80% of our prisons would be empty. Drug cartels out of business back ally dealers gone. Would we have drug use? WHAT THE *#$& DO YOU THINK WE HAVE NOW? Just because as long as you have been alive somthing has been government controlled dose NOT make it right.

      Who profits? Who gets money to fight drug trafficking? Who gets money to keep people in jail? Who tells us it illegal? They do not want the violence to end! It's GOOD for business!!!

      Wake up!!!

      Think about it OPENLY!! Not with your nanny state corrupted mindset.

    18. Greg B Vail AZ says:

      My neighbor, a Major in the border patrol tells me that busts of gun cashes seized as they cross the border INTO the US consist of better than 75% being of Russian, Chinese, or even Iranian knock offs of the AK-47. Sure, US citizens buy the drugs that are smuggled through Mexico, but you are foolish to think this is the sole funding of the drug lords. Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all contribute to their coffers. Check the FBI's web site if you do not believe me.

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    20. Ali, Michigan says:

      Will S. wrote: "Mexico’s problem originates in the US, and unless we do something to stop the flow of money south, those guns, where-ever they come from, will be moving north."

      ————-

      No, Mexico's problem originates in Mexico. Remember, we have a neighbor to our north, a neighbor that given the proximity and lucrativeness of the U.S. market for drugs could easily have been overrun with by drug cartels IF IT WEREN'T for the nature of Canadian culture and the Canadian economy and the decisions that CANADIANS have made about the society they want.

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    22. macko says:

      To answer how they know whether or not guns were the confiscated guns were sold in the US is quite simple. Guns sold in the US are required to have a serial number.

    23. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I hope you know that the Government is doing everything it can to destroy the American Gun Manufacturers as an Industry. Bad enough they ignore the Second Amendment, these Progressives are all about disarming Americans thus making us victims. Guns save lives, and it is millions of lives. I argue it is part of the Soft Mass Murder of Americans to make them victims of crime by disarming them. So yes, I call it murder to take our weapons just as it was murder when Stalin took the Russian peasant's seed grain.

      Sure enough Bromund confirms what I thought the minute I heard the news American guns were used in Mexico, I knew they were exaggerating again! Now we Americans are the cause of all of Mexico's problems, somehow! Then I thought, what a brain drain it must be for Mexico to have so many of their citizens up here when really, they should go home and fix their own miserable corrupt Country! Quit blaming us. If they were such promising new citizens for us? You think they would have the Rule Of Law at home. These folks come up here and destroy neighborhoods and whole cities! They are lawless at home and they are lawless here in the USA. Deport yourselves and create a Nation worth living in, and quit undermining ours!

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    25. JarJar Binks says:

      to Frank, NYC

      Mexico loves to criticize and humiliate the US, you can rest assurred that EVERY traceable gun has been compared to a US list.

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    27. Tory II, Illinois says:

      If they proved 100,000 U.S. sold or made guns were recovered there, I could care less.

      I say it's good for business. If Mexico wants to stop the violence it must legalize drugs. The same for the U.S.

      Don't blame the guns because we all need them to protect ourselves from violent Mexican and American drug dealers and our worst enemy our govt and other criminals, and it's not the cause of the violence anyway.

      There is no such thing as an illegal gun, and the 2nd amendment prohibits govts from regulating them.

    28. Stu Strickler says:

      The government and the media need to quit telling lies! The drugs and gangs are the problem, not the firearms.

      The US government has wasted billions of dollars on the drug war. We are not winning it, so they blame firearms!

    29. Steve in Arizona says:

      The one point missing in all of this is a question regarding the weapons that have been traced to one of the US gun dealers. Nobody has asked how many of the traced guns that were sold in the US turn out to have been stolen from legitimate, legal, American gun owners? These stories always leave the impression that US gun dealers are selling (knowingly, or not) guns to Mexican nationals in violation of US law. I seriously doubt that is happening in light of the intense scrutiny under which US guns dealers must operate.

      Crimes committed by Mexican nationals in Tucson are quite high. My neighborhood has been hit by burglars and car thieves that came from Mexico. One friend had their vehicle stolen by Mexican nationals, twice. Thanks to "Lowjack" they recovered the vehicle both times, before the thieves made it to the border and the car theives are currently doing time. I have little doubt that guns of US origin that do happen to end up in Mexico have been stolen from law-abiding citizens and not simply sold to Mexican nationals by US gun dealers. Naturally, I'm a great believer in safes and serious burglar alarms!!!

    30. Frank, NYC says:

      So to be clear, Mr Bromund has offered no proof for his statement that the guns not submitted for tracing "are not of U.S. origin,” and the only commenter addressing the point, JarJar Binks, simply tells us we can "rest assured" this is the case?

      And all agree that The Post is the one guilty of sloppy journalism?

    31. Don Fachabella, NY says:

      Let us not forget the $$$ involved here. First of all why isn't the US doing anything in a more aggressive manner to stop the drug wars?? Because all of the major corporations have their corporate processing plants in Mexico. Do you think that the want the drug cartels attacking the big business of Mexico? Where do the cartel $$$ come from. Everyone that smokes a joint or does crack.

      Have you ever asked yourself why the national guard isnt posted at the border for training excerises ? Why dont we have sensor flood lights where the Border patrol is stationed?

      I truly feel sorry for the men and women of the border patrol. they are risking their lives every day. The sad part is that they stop only 1% of the human traffic and drug traffic.

      I care more about human slavery than the drug traffic.

      People that use drugs made a choice, people put into slavery dont have one.

      As far as violence in Mexico coming here. That you have to ask your elected officials. Ask them why they lay off police officers, why there isnt more funds allocated to the Coast Guard and Border Patrol. As long as the drug violence isnt on capital hill they dont really care. And they will use it as a bargaining chip for passage of THEIR bill to make their constituents happy.

      I think that this Mexican issue constitutes terrorism. We all should write our reps. in DC and tell them that this issue is a Homeland security issue. Not the 2nd amendment!

    32. Tours Martel, Castro says:

      The true source of Mexico's drug wars is American drug use. "Recreational" drug use in the U.S. finances all illegal Mexican weapons purchases regardless of place of origin. Those persons who indulge their habit are responsible for the deaths in Mexico, second only to those who pull the trigger.

    33. Hugo, Plano TX says:

      It bothers me how some media focuses on the arms trade instead of focusing on the real issues and only portrays one side of the coin.

      Having friends in Mexico, I know that the majority of the people in Mexico would like to have similar laws regarding guns and their ability to purchase them. The people in Mexico demand the Mexican government to allow them to get armed so they can defend themselves since the corrupt police and military are not capable of protecting the population.

      In fact, the mexican constitution allows the mexican people to own weapons. But guess what? Like an old Mexican says, the laws in mexico are made for the poor and the fool. Thus, no weapons for the average Mexican.

      The news media should focus on the overwhelming corruption in Mexico and make a big deal when the chief of the Juarez police is caught in El Paso with thousands of AK-47 rounds with the intent of smuggling into Mexico.

      Our U.S. laws are not the problem in Mexico. It is the Mexican power elite, corruption and lack of their people to defend demselves.

    34. Woodpiggie says:

      RE: gun issue reporting by the "Driveby Media": The end justifies the means!

    35. James Tennessee says:

      The main stream media can't help themselves. They scratch the barrel to get their name in print in an attempt to justify their paycheck regardless of content. Keeps them from the strain of a real job.

    36. Glenn, CA says:

      Seems to me that a giant drug cartel would leave enough footprint that a government couldn't help but know where it was. I mean, it requires farm land, buildings, trucks, tractors, Men standing around with guns guarding it all the time. Why doesn't the President of such a country just get his army together, and with mortars, tanks, machine guns, just burn the whole place to the ground?

      Could it be that the President of such a country is receiving too much money from the drug people to want them to actually curtail their business. Seems to me that working to deprive the neighboring country of defensive weapons just helps the drug cartel.

      Perhaps our President should offer some satelite surveilance time to the President of Mexico to find these thugs, and then offer some BATF/Army time to get rid of them. I mean, if we can burn down a whole church with 57 people in it, (Waco), why not a drug farm that is murdering our citizens..

    37. Lonny Watson Canyon, says:

      I would bet that a large number of the weapons traced to the U.S. were legally exported to Mexican gov. agencies and then stolen or diverted to criminal use by corrupt Mexican gov. officials. Has anyone inquired into that possibility?

    38. Lonny Watson Canyon, says:

      Due to rampant corruption at all levels of Mexican gov., I will bet that a large percentage of weapons traceable to the U.S. were legally exported to Mexican gov. agencies and military and illegally diverted for criminal use. Our gov. and the leftist media probably will not look into that possibility.

    39. Larry, California says:

      Post and other gun-banning media simply like to quote a distorted story, to arouse the anti-gun mood in the US. Even few nights ago in a party, other guests were "shocked" that I (a very civilized and well-mannered gentleman) support the 2nd amendment (hei, isn't it part of our constitution?).

      I simply asked them how Lovell Mixon, an ex-convict, got guns and killed the 4 Oakland police while I, a law-abiding citizen, have to wait for 10 days to get a firearm? How a female teacher in the gun club wished to have her gun by her side to defend the 20+ 3rd graders in the classroom when the police informed the school for a lock-down (she thought she may die protecting the school kids that day). How do those anti-gun guests propose to defend their kids in that situation?

      When dealing with distortion, emotion, and simple tarnishment, do we need to apply similar trick to arouse the emotion in addition to the whole-picture fact?

    40. Dinah Garrison Fairb says:

      All, Michigan—Great comments and thinking. But it's so much better to blame the USA.

    41. Richard Duree; Costa says:

      All this is very true, but it – as others do, also – omits the key source and reason of the chaos in Mexico: America's insatiable consumption of drugs. Why does no one voice a campaign against the use of the very drugs that are so profitable to the cartels. Stop blaming everyone else and look to ourselves as the source of the problem. As long as our widespread demand for drugs exists, so will the situation in Mexico and no amount of border control or Mexican intervention will solve it.

    42. Steve Riden Lenoir C says:

      Again you use information slanted toward your organization's policies for more gun control. How can you publish such erronious information without verifying the facts?!!

      The facts are that of the guns sent for tracing there was 5,114 that were found originating in the U.S.; 5,886 not traced to the U.S. and approximatly 18,000 guns that were NOT sent to be traced. The only way to come up with the figures that you published is to not consider the 18,000 guns that were not traced and calculate the percentage of 5,114 to 5,886. If this is done, the percentage reaches your 80 – 90% at 86.9% without consideration of the guns not traced or the percentage of guns traced to the U.S. to the total of guns that were traced. This calculation yeilds a percentage of 46.5%. The percentage of guns traced to the total number of guns recovered is only 38%. Guns traced to the U.S. compred to the total guns recovered is now only 17.6%.

    43. AD - Downey CA says:

      Just a point:

      The NRA is not "The Gun Lobby";

      It is an organization composed of individual gun owners.

      The commercial side of gun owning is represented by the National Shooting Sports Federation, and other organizations composed of manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

      The NRA is "The Gun Owners Lobby", and WE VOTE!

    44. Robert Demarest Cumi says:

      This is starting to look like a conspiracy. Last week the Charlotte Observer ran a similar story. Numerous letters were sent to the editor on some very obvious errors.(Do any of these reporters know anything about guns and ammunition?) no letters were printed. It was asthough the Observer wanted the story to go away.

      The other night Brian Williams did the same story. He showed the story of the guy who shot up a school board meeting claiming this man used an "automatic handgun". Really! Looked like a Colt style of unknown caliber. Another reporter with no knopwledge of what he is opining.

      We must keep up the vigilance. There are many people who would confiscate our firearms at the slightest provacation. There are too many states that are willing to leave their citizens without the ability to protect themselves in their own homes much less in their travels. I consider New Jersey the worst with New York City a close second.

      Keep up the fight and get your gunowning neighbor to join the NRA, our only defense against teh gun grabber movement.

    45. BigFED, TX says:

      The biggest lie is in the photo evidence itself. Where all the Uzis and other military grade firearms are shown, thus giving the completely FALSE idea that this class of firearms are being sold willy nilly in US gun shops and gun shows when they are NOT!!!

      As Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damn lies and Statistics". This saying could not be MORE appropriate for this story!!!

      And this makes you an accomplice to a major sin in journalism, not doing the research and finding the TRUTH!!!

      Too bad one cannot be prosecuted for perjury for telling "stories" like this!!!

    46. Doug Stewart, Courtl says:

      Will S., you think far too much like a Yankee, choosing to not force Mexico to take any personal responsibility for illegal guns used by civilians in that nation. Illegal guns used by Mexicans is the responsibility of Mexico, not the USA.

      We need to finish building that border fence, and we also need a border fence with Canada!

    47. subzero, seattle says:

      Hmm..Drug lords and cartels get their firearms by going to gun shops and purchasing legally in the U.S.? Of course, the answer is no and makes a U.S. side "assault weapons ban," restricting licensed dealers and tracing U.S. legal purchasers moot doesn't it? Wouldn't cartels just import military weapons instead of civilian firearms make more sense? But, then again it is easier regulate law abiding citizens.

    48. River Freedom, Color says:

      In support of BigFed, he is right. If you want uzis , fully auto AK-47, and grenades, sadly you can't buy them at Walmart. And, yet they are easily obtained on the street for a fixed amount of money if you know who to ask in Spanish. $150 for uzis and $350 – $450 for Ak-47 in the Colorado Springs Area. Where are these weapons coming from? Smuggled in fast Hondas by local affiliates of the Mexican Mafia, marijuana, heroin and fully automatic weapons flood El Paso County. This is accurate street intel, but useless to law enforcement because the Mexican Mafia also has paid informants within the law enforcement community which makes it virtually impossible to bust anyone. The reality is the Mexican Drug Cartels buy influence from local officials who turn a blind eye to their violent smuggling activities. The media outlets have got the story upside down and backwards. Why? Because Second Amendment Rights are under attack.

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