Success of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging many miles and knocking on countless doors, reports the Houston Chronicle. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from around the U.S. are following what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.” Mexican officials in 2008 asked federal agents to trace the origins of more than 7,500 firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Most were traced to Texas, California, and Arizona.
Agents are combing neighborhoods and asking people about suspicious purchases as well as seeking explanations as to how their guns ended up used in murders, kidnappings and other crimes in Mexico. ATF has dispatched 100 veteran agents to its Houston division, which reaches to the border. The mission is especially challenging because while Houston is the number one point of origin for weapons traced back to the United States from Mexico, the government can't compile databases on gun owners under federal law. Agents instead review firearms dealers' records in person.