President Obama told Mexican President Felipe Calderón yesterday that the U.S. would stem a flow of weapons across the border into Mexico. While Washington has spent more than $30 billion since the early 1990s to keep illicit goods and illegal immigrants from entering the U.S., reports the Wall Street Journal, it has had virtually nothing in place to check — let alone stop — what is flowing out.
Mexican authorities have long pressed the U.S. to do more to stop the southbound trafficking of American-procured weapons, dubbed the “Iron River.” At the biggest international bridge in Laredo, Tx., checking vehicles for Mexico-bound contraband is such a foreign concept that the U.S. government doesn’t even own the six outbound lanes. They belong to the city. The only infrastructure dedicated to stopping motorists heading south is a toll gate, so Laredo can collect $3 for every passing vehicle. “Our resources and our equipment are set up to do the northbound examinations,” said Eugenio “Gene” Garza, the Laredo port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Garza doesn’t have staff for round-the-clock examinations, which he said are crucial to making a difference.