Mexican Drug Cartel Arms Race Escalates


In a disturbing trend of Mexico’s drug wars reported by the Los Angeles Times, traffickers have escalated their arms race. They are acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions, and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals. Most weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.The proliferation of heavier armaments points to a menacing new stage in Mexico’s 2-year-old war against drug organizations, which are evolving into a more militarized force prepared to take on Mexican army troops as well as to attack each other. These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. Some of the weapons are left over from the wars that the United States helped fight in Central America. “There is an arms race between the cartels,” said Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government. “One group gets rocket-propelled grenades, the other has to have them.”

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