While the Mexican government is trying to win a historic first-of-its-kind lawsuit against top US gun manufacturers over the flow of arms across Mexico’s northern border, Mexican criminal organizations are starting to use a new route to get a new kind of weapon.
According to sources inside the Sinaloa Cartel and to details gleaned from recent arms seizures, cartels are increasingly sourcing their weapons from Central America. That southward shift is picking up as the Mexican government makes one of the strongest attempts yet to stop arms trafficking from the US into Mexico.
The Mexican government’s suit accuses US gunmakers of fueling the bloodshed between cartels in Mexico by facilitating illegal weapons trafficking into the country. Thirteen US states, the District of Columbia, and two Caribbean countries have backed the $10 billion lawsuit.
From 2015 to 2020 Mexico recovered and submitted more than 100,000 firearms to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, according to official figures from ATF.
An arms trafficker for the Sinaloa Cartel who operates from Sinaloa’s capital city, Culiacán, said recent attempts by the Mexican government to stop the illegal flow of firearms southbound from the US are “somewhat” affecting his business and the cartels’ ability to arm themselves.
The government’s “actions are slowing down our job, but we haven’t stopped at all. We are finding new ways, including the back door: Central America,” the trafficker, nicknamed “El Güero,” told Insider, asking not to be identified for personal security reasons.
Mexican criminal groups have long been associated with foreign-made weapons like the AK-47 and M16, but, according to El Güero, it is now more common for sicarios, or hitmen, to use the Galil ACE, an Israeli rifle that is manufactured in Colombia. The Galil ACE is an official weapon for Mexican and Colombian law enforcement.