As the body count in Mexico’s cartel war surpasses 34,000, those of us in the U.S. watch with horror and fascination. Then we change the channel, turn the page or scroll to the next story. Our country seems to have the overriding sense that this convulsively violent crime wave is Mexico’s dirty problem.
But the truth about the cartel wildfire is that the U.S. is both the kindling, the logs and the match.
The origin of this problem is our insatiable thirst for narcotics such as meth, heroin, marijuana and cocaine, which our addicts order up in more varieties than Starbucks has lattes. To the great misfortune of Mexicans, whose average income is 1/3 that of our own (according to the CIA website), some of their most ruthless citizens have seized on Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., as well as its prime positioning on the corridor between the U.S. and South American drug fields, in order to conduct an extremely profitable business.
For this (illegal) business model to thrive, one needs guns. A lot of guns. Because of stringent anti-gun laws, Mexicans have often crossed the border for firearms. The ubiquitous presence of guns for sale, in stores, gun swaps or online from private individuals, has fueled a weapons trafficking business in the reverse direction of narcotics. In many cases, Americans have been the conduit for an endless flow of gun purchases. Only a small percentage are seized at the border. Not surprisingly, weapons recovered from cartel killings are commonly traced to the U.S.
Those weapons have also been turned on Americans. The recent homicide of a Homeland Security agent in Mexico was carried out with a weapon reported to be purchased in the U.S. In addition, cartel hit men have shown up in American cities and rural areas, and in some cases their targets have been U.S. law enforcement. Read more »