More than 73,000 guns that were seized in Mexico were traced to the U.S. between 2009 and 2014, says an update reported by NPR on the effort to fight weapons trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. The figure, based on data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, represents about 70 percent of the 104,850 firearms seized by Mexican authorities that were submitted to U.S. authorities for tracing. The data were analyzed by the Government Accountability Office, which notes that U.S. police agencies have acknowledged firearms smuggling is fueling violent crime in Mexico.
“While guns seized in Mexico of U.S. origin were traced to all of the 50 states, most came from Texas, California, and Arizona,” GAO said. Many of those guns were bought legally in the U.S. and then smuggled over the border. About half were long guns, such as the high-caliber AR-15, preferred by cartel gunmen. Mexican drug traffickers rely on straw purchasers who legally buy the weapons in the U.S., then transfer them to criminal gangs.” The report identifies a new wrinkle in the gun trade, citing officials on both sides of the border who say they’re seeing unfinished gun parts being transported into Mexico, where they’re used to assemble finished weapons.