U.S. Embassy Cables: 90 Percent of Mexican Drug Cartels' Most Lethal Weapons Come From Central America--Not USA

By Edwin Mora | April 1, 2011 | 11:00 AM EDT

A young man lies dead in a public park after being shot to death by unidentified assailants in the municipality of Apodaca on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010. The numbered tags mark bullets casings. (AP Photo/Carlos Jasso)

(CNSNews.com) -- The most lethal weapons used by drug cartels in Mexico are smuggled from Central America, not from the United States, according to U.S. Embassy cables unveiled by WikiLeaks, reported La Jornada, a leading newspaper in Mexico City.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reportedly wrote the cables following three bilateral conferences on firearms trafficking that took place in Mexico between March 2009 and January 2010.

The cables from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to the State Department in Washington, D.C., reported that lethal weapons, including anti-tank firearms and grenades, were stolen from military forces in Central America and then smuggled into Mexico through the Guatemala border, reported  La Jornada on Mar. 29.

That information was in turn provided to officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosive (ATF ) component of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The cables noted a trend that was not detected between 2008 and 2009--that demand by drug trafficking organizations in Mexico for more firepower was increasing.

Drug cartels are increasingly demanding military-style arms such as grenades and light anti-tank weapons, in addition to guns that penetrate bullet-proof vests known as “cop killers” in Mexico, according to one cable.

Among the high-powered artillery that Mexican authorities were able to confiscate from drug cartels, 90 percent came from arsenals of armies in Central America, stated the the U.S. Embassy.

The cables do not provide specifics about the Central American countries involved or any supporting data about the allegations.

They do state, however, that the vast majority of the small artillery used by drug cartels, such as handguns and assault rifles, are smuggled from the United States.

A Tijuana police honor guard stands by as the hearse carrying state investigator Jose Miguel Guerra's remains leaves the Baja California attorney general's office after funeral services in Tijuana, Mexico, on Monday Jan. 10, 2011. Guerra was murdered by unknown gunmen outside his Tijuana home on Jan. 7. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

The U.S. Embassy blamed the Mexican government for not devoting enough manpower to secure the international boundary that separates Mexico from Guatemala, according to the cables.

“While there are 30,000 U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers on the 1,926 mile Mexican/U.S. border, only 125 Mexican immigration officials monitor the 577 mile border with Guatemala,” stated the embassy cables.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that 90 percent of traceable guns seized from drug cartels in Mexico come from the United States, a rate that has been questioned by analysts.

In April 2009, CNSNews.com reported that the U.S. government does not know how many guns are confiscated from Mexican drug cartels in Mexico.

The La Jornada report on these cables follows revelations in the United States that the ATF apparently was deliberately allowing guns to be channled into the hands of Mexican criminals under operation “Fast and Furious.”

That operation involved ATF officials allowing approximately 2,000 weapons to be smuggled from the United States into Mexico. Among those guns, around 1,200 were never tracked down, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

President Barack Obama has said that neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder, who overseas the ATF, authorized that operation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently testified that she was not aware of the “Fast and Furious” operation.