40,000 weapons seized in Mexico since 2018, 70% are from the U.S.: Mexican Secretary of Defense

By May 6, 2023

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexican security agencies have reported an increase in seizures of arms and ammunition smuggled from the United States into the country. Top security officials largely attribute the lack of gun control in the U.S. to the relentless violence in Mexico. 

On May 2, Secretary of National Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval said that the Mexican armed forces had seized 39,782 firearms since December 2018. According to the head of the military, around 70% of the seized weaponry is of U.S. origin. 

Specifically, Sandoval briefed that 50-caliber machine guns have gained popularity among crime syndicates in Mexico, with authorities reporting increased presence of those firearms. 

Sandoval explained that such high-powered weapons are produced in the U.S. and said that Mexican intelligence is well aware of the type of weaponry that comes from Mexico’s northern neighbor. 

“We have identified the weapons coming from the United States that could be entering through the borders of Texas, with the borders also over California, which are the ones where it has been detected that there is a passage of weapons, that today in customs we have seizures of weapons transiting from north to south,” said Sandoval. 

In addition, during the presidential morning briefing on April 4, the head of the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Rosa Icela Rodríguez Velázquez, also reported a notable increase in the seizure of high-caliber ammunition in the country, citing as well the growing presence of the Baretta machine gun. 

Weapons confiscated by Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection.

Reportedly, the Baretta rifle lists as a favorite within the arsenal of Mexico’s leading drug cartels, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG). 

During her intervention at the press conference, Velázquez linked gun production and distribution in the U.S. with the violence plaguing Mexico. 

“We continue to say that the violence suffered in a large part of our country is due to the reinforcement of this type of criminal groups that have illicit weapons coming from the United States, and we emphasized the need to reinforce these operations,” said Velázquez. 

Velázquez shared that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the leading authority behind “Operation from North to South,” a joint operation agreed upon by the Mexican and U.S. governments that seek to dismantle firearms and fentanyl trafficking, the transborder security effort was signed last February in Washington.

Mexico has actively tried to hamper gun smuggling from the U.S., with the Foreign Ministry under Marcelo Ebrard suing 10 major gun manufacturers in the U.S. on August 2021. 

Ebrard presenting lawsuit August 2021.

However, the suit was shortly discarded by federal Judge Dennis Saylor since the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) establishes that businesses in the U.S. that are engaged in foreign commerce are “not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products.” 

On March 15, Ebrard appealed the judge’s decision. The resolution for or against the Mexican cause will be known at the end of 2023. 

“The Government of Mexico argues that PLCAA does not provide any immunity to gun companies for damages caused by criminal acts committed with their weapons in Mexico,” wrote Ebrard in a press release.