Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) say that, despite their best efforts, thousands of gun-show purchases in Arizona eventually turn up south of the border, where drug cartels are locked in a violent, escalating battle with the new Calderón government, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “[President Felipe] Calderón has tightened the lid and turned up the heat,” says William Newell, agent in charge of the ATF’s Phoenix division. “It is a war, and the guns and ammo [Mexico’s drug lords] are using a lot of times are coming from the US.”
The U.S. is training Mexican authorities on how to trace guns (including those with filed-off serial numbers) and is cooperation more on gun-smuggling investigations. ATF is slated to get manpower reinforcements this year. Of 100 new hires, 30 will be sent to states on the southern border to work on gun-smuggling investigations – a move that will more than double the number of agents currently dedicated to such cases. Still, the scale of the problem would seem to dwarf the new resources being devoted to combating it. Thousands sof guns are sneaked across the border each month. There’s evidence that the weaponry flowing southward is becoming increasingly sophisticated – and lethal.