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U.S. Takes Aim on Arms Smugglers: Heavily Armed Cartels Get Many of Their Weapons From the U.S.

NCJ Number
Agora Volume: 2 Issue: 3 Dated: 2009 Pages: 12-17
Date Published
6 pages
This article discusses initiatives undertaken by the United States to stem the flow of illegal weapons from the United States to Mexico and remove weapons from the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.
As part of the Government's comprehensive strategy to collaborate with Mexico in battling drug cartels, substantial resources will be aimed at stemming the flow of illegal weapons from the United States into Mexico. With arms smuggling from the United States identified as one of the biggest threats to Mexico, stopping the flow has become an urgent priority. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice have planned numerous initiatives aimed at arms smugglers and other cartel operations. The DHS has strengthened staff along the United States-Mexico border and uses screening technology for inspection of vehicles and rail cars crossing the border. The programs, Project Gunrunner and eTrace which target the flow of arms have been expanded. Operation Armas Cruzadas (Arms Crossed) launched last year is a law enforcement and intelligence-sharing operation targeting arms smuggling. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is now screening all rail cars going from the United States to Mexico as well as Mexico to the United States. The CBP is adding personnel and more Z-backscatter mobile X-ray units to check for anomalies in passenger vehicles. Another successful initiative, aimed at arms smuggling and many other elements of drug cartel operations, is the creation of Border Enforcement Security Task Forces (BEST). Of the 12 units nationwide, BEST units have become a successful model for collaborative law enforcement.