Devastation in US Border Towns: US Arms Trafficking to Mexican Cartels

The extensive trafficking between Mexico and the United States is not simply limited to large amounts of drugs. A pattern of arms trafficking has developed, moving across the border from the United States to Mexico.

From 2007 to 2011 the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives estimates more than 68,000 firearms were trafficked from the United States to Mexico. (CNN June 2012)

The demand for American firearms are in high demand in Mexico as laws are restrictive and high-powered weapons such as AK-47 style pistols are only allowed to be used by the Mexican military. Therefore Mexican cartels turn to the United States border towns to trafficking firearms to arm their enforces such as the Juarez Cartel’s enforcement arm, La Linea (the line). (CNN June 2012)
As the Mexican cartels cross the border in search for United States suppliers, corruption runs rampant in the US border towns such as Columbus, NM. A huge scandal was discovered in this small town where officials were found to be involved in trafficking weapons to a Mexican cartel. The federal sweep of the town resulted in the arrest of three local officials and other individuals who indicted with charges from laundering money to trafficking weapons to the cartel. Eddie Espinoza, the former mayor, was charged with and plead guilty to firearms smuggling, conspiracy, and making false statements in acquiring guns. (CNN June 2012)

Unfortunately the discovery of the arms trafficking scandal and the arrests of local officials is not the end of the problem in Columbus, NM.

The town is still desperately trying to recover from the corruption but the town was left with unreconciled books as spending had gone unchecked and state auditors were never aware of it. The 5 member police department was disbanded after the arrest of the police chief because the town could not continue to pay the officers. Therefore the town now relies on Luna County’s Sheriff’s office to police Columbus, once again leaving the town open and vulnerable to corruption by Mexican cartels. (CNN June 2012)
The town is in a complete state of poverty with money owed to both the state and federal governments in addition to using grant funds to keep the town functioning at a minimal level. In the aftermath of the scandal, Columbus is left with no choice but to fight to survive after such a shocking and disappointing discovery.

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