High-powered automatic weapons and ammunition are flowing virtually unchecked from border states into Mexico, fueling a war among drug traffickers, thee army, and police that has left thousands dead, U.S. and Mexican officials tell the Los Angeles Times. The munitions are hidden under trucks and stashed in the trunks of cars, or concealed under the clothing of people who brazenly walk across the international bridges. They are showing up in seizures and in the aftermath of shootouts between the cartels and police in Mexico.
More than 9 percent of guns seized at the border or after raids and shootings in Mexico have been traced to the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Last year, 2,455 weapons traces requested by Mexico showed that guns had been purchased in the United States, according to the ATF. Texas, Arizona, and California accounted for 1,805 of those traced weapons. More than 6,700 licensed gun dealers have set up shop within a short drive of the 2,000-mile border, from the Gulf Coast of Texas to San Diego — which amounts to more than three dealers for every mile of border territory. Law enforcement has come to call the region an “iron river of guns.” While U.S. political leaders have focused efforts on stemming the northward flow of drugs and illegal immigrants, far less has been done about arms flowing south, largely from states with liberal gun laws, into a nation where only police and the military can legally own a firearm.