Mexico City, Mexico – Three years ago, Cresencio “Chencho” Pacheco became one of the estimated 357,000 people in Mexico who were forcibly displaced by conflict and violence.

Pacheco became the spokesperson for himself and his 1,600 neighbors who fled the mountainous village of Guerrero when a local group armed with grenades and guns took over the area for drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

According to the bullets found at the scene, some of the weapons used by the group are believed to have been smuggled from the United States to Mexico.

The vast majority of people displaced from Guerrero in November 2018 have never returned to their villages.

Crescencio’Chencho’ Pacheco (left) listens to another member of his displaced community, asking for security from the government of Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador [Photo: Ann Deslandes]

Some people are scattered across Mexico, while many people—such as Pacheco—are now seeking asylum in the United States because of the constant threat posed by the gangs that still occupy the area.

His story is just an example of how lax gun laws north of the border encourage violence in Mexico, which severely limits the sale and possession of guns.

“It undermines the stability of this country,” Pacheco told Al Jazeera that guns flooded into Mexico. He is currently living in a temporary residence in the United States, awaiting a decision on an asylum case.

Earlier this month, the Mexican government took unprecedented measures to help curb the flow of illegal weapons Lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors, Claiming that their negligence caused illegal arms trafficking to Mexico and contributed to violence and bloodshed.

However, while the lawsuit sends a strong message, some believe it is unlikely to restrict the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.

Made in the U.S. and sold to Mexico

litigation (PDF)It has filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, and seeks compensation of US$10 billion. Its target is the large brands in the US gun industry, including Smith & Wesson Brands; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing; Beretta USA; Beretta Holdings Companies; Century International Arms Company; Colt Manufacturing Company; Glock Company; Glock Ges.mbH; Sturm, Ruger and Company and gun supplier Witmer Public Safety Group, which conducts business under the name of Interstate Arms Company.

The complaint alleges that 70% to 90% of the guns found at Mexican crime scenes were smuggled from the United States, most of which were made by six American manufacturers: Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt’s, Glock and Ruger .

The complaint also emphasized that “Mexico has a gun store in the country and issues fewer than 50 gun licenses each year” and claimed that “guns made in the United States are more likely to be used to murder Mexican citizens (17,000 in 2019) than the United States. Citizens (14,000 in 2019)”.

Family and friends participated in the funeral parade for a victim in the Uruapan video game hall shooting on February 5, 2020. As cartels compete for territory, the violence reached shocking levels [File: Marco Ugarte/AP Photo]

A report (PDF) A review of data on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives (ATF) released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in February found that 70% of the firearms recovered and submitted for tracking in Mexico from 2014 to 2018 were reported to come from U.S.

Alan Zamayoa, an analyst at global risk consulting firm Control Risks, told Al Jazeera: “These guns are legally purchased in gun shops or exhibitions, and are mainly purchased by U.S. citizens and/or legal residents.” “Once it is bought by a gun trafficker or single person, the gun is sold to a criminal group that intends to bring it into Mexico.”

Zamayoa said that the “simplest and cheapest way” to transport guns from the United States to Mexico is “through illegal border crossings”-in fact, the opposite of the drug smuggling route.

Zamayoa noted that guns are also smuggled through legal international border crossings. This is usually in collusion with customs officials; he said weapons will also cross the border in fragments, and different people will cross the border with individual or specific parts. “Once all the smugglers and parts are in Mexico, they will reassemble the guns,” he said.

Since the number in the February report only represents the number of guns submitted to the ATF by the Mexican Federal Attorney General’s Office, the actual number may be higher.

The Mexican government estimates that more than 2 million weapons have been illegally smuggled into the country from the United States in the past decade. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico, they have contributed to the increase in gun homicide rates, reaching 13 homicides per 100,000 people by 2020.

Use court

Before Mexico filed a lawsuit against American gun manufacturers, the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (also known as the anti-money laundering organization) took other ambitious gestures to counter its northern neighbors. Country, and showed that it deviated from its predecessor’s corruption and violence.

In fact, from threats to expel the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to accusing the U.S. government of launching a coup, the magnificent gesture of Mexican sovereignty has become a hallmark of the anti-money laundering government.

“The Lopez Obrador government seeks to refocus bilateral security cooperation on issues such as reducing homicides and reducing arms trafficking from the United States,” said Stephanie Bu, Director of Mexico and Immigration Rights, Latin America Office in Washington. Ruhr (Stephanie Brewer) said, Tank, told Al Jazeera.

“This lawsuit was filed against this background and conveyed a strong message that the Mexican federal government attaches importance to this,” she added.

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico, gun smuggling from the United States contributes to Mexico’s high gun homicide rate, reaching 13 homicides per 100,000 people in 2020 [File: Rashide Frias/AP Photo]

As Brewer observed, “This is not the first time Mexico has expressed interest in prioritizing arms trafficking, but this administration has taken this information to a new level.”

Mexico’s litigation may face many obstacles, notably the United States’ Lawful Commercial Protection of Weapons Act, which protects gun manufacturers from almost all civil liability and prevents victims and their families from suing them.

Brewer said: “U.S. legislation makes it very difficult to prosecute gun manufacturers for violence caused by weapons, so litigation faces a difficult path.”

Glock, one of the gun manufacturers that Mexico is suing, marked the lawsuit as “baseless” and promised to “vigorously” defend itself.

Send a message

Zamayoa said that even if the ruling was in favor of the Mexican government, it would not be enough to have a real impact on the volume of gun trafficking.

“Compared with reducing gun violence, potentially successful litigation is likely to be reflected in changes in the way criminals obtain guns,” Zamayoya said.

Glock, one of the gun manufacturers that Mexico is suing, marked the lawsuit as “baseless” and promised to “vigorously” defend itself [File: Bloomberg]

“For example, criminals can become more involved in internal gun production or find other markets outside the United States to obtain gun supplies. Similarly, gun theft by Mexican security forces may increase,” he pointed out.

Nonetheless, Brewer said, “this lawsuit sends a strong message to the United States about the importance of this issue to the Mexican government”, even if it did not succeed in the courts.

However, she added that Mexico will also carry out reforms to comprehensively address the gun violence problem in the country.

“In general, the only real solution to criminal violence in Mexico is to investigate and prosecute criminal networks to reduce impunity and undermine the collusion and tolerance of state actors,” Brewer said, noting that “Mexican police forces “Professionalization and accountability” is also necessary. All levels”.

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