Jan. 24, 2011
Agency experts admit they have no idea how many guns go to Mexico from U.S.
Has no way to get the information either
"90%" figure used by U.S. media and government pundits is unsupportable
No desire to get the number or conflict with public statements
Exclusive to The Uninvited Ombudsman
LAS VEGAS -- In personal conversations at the SHOT Show with four high-level Justice Dept. officials, including knowledgeable BATFE experts speaking on condition of anonymity, it became apparent that a commonly cited figure used by the "news" media to attack American gun stores and gun rights is a complete fabrication.
No method exists to obtain the information. The agency has no mandate or desire to do so. Even if the information could be obtained or deduced from what few records exist, they would be reluctant to release it to the public and anger their superiors, they say. From the head of the State Dept. to the heads of various departments within the agency, the 90% gun-running stat has been standardized despite it being completely false.
Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State has publicly repeated the remark, made by Mr. Obama, who said at a Mexican press conference, "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border." FactCheck.org provides interesting background on the false nature of these quotes: http://www.factcheck.org/politics/counting_mexicos_guns.html
New information, according to our sources:
--Corruption, incompetence and inefficiency within the Mexican government itself prevents those officials from actually knowing how many guns they confiscate in the first place, from the illegal-vegetable cartels fighting Mr. Calderon's failed war on some drugs.
--An unknown number of these weapons are recycled right back into the cartels through bribes and theft, further clouding any numbers that are eventually provided to U.S. bureaucrats. Without these numbers, and ratios or comparisons are meaningless.
--Mexico does not release such information in a forthright way to U.S. officials, and what we do get is of unknown quality or accuracy. This makes any comparison or ratio of U.S. traces to the totals mere guesswork with less credibility than a routine issues poll conducted by ideological groups.
--An unknown percentage of confiscated-gun information in Mexico is sent to the U.S. for tracing. It is believed to be below 33%, and may be as low as ten percent or less. With no way to know this number, the percentages quoted by American leaders can barely be called propaganda. Only some guns with serial numbers or other markings, which may indicate a U.S. connection are submitted, making the quoted percentages preposterous.
--Of the traces actually conducted, which itself is only a portion of the total, officials made it quite clear that while American origin could theoretically be determined for some segment of the traces, determining how many of these are straw purchase and hence from border gun shops is essentially impossible.
They cited many reasons for this, including the fact that only the original purchaser can be identified. Guns bought years ago could go through many hands before making it to: a prohibited possessor (a likely source of many of the firearms, they said), an after-market straw purchaser (cannot be determined), theft (only distinguished if the then-current owner filed a report) or other means. The agency does NOT compile such statistics because they realize it would be a fruitless exercise in futility.
Among the answers repeatedly given for why the numbers are so bad, why top officials are using the now openly bogus figures, what the chances for future improvement might be, and why they won't publicly admit the truth or confront the leadership and help reestablish a semblance of credibility for the agency, were, "I have no knowledge of those statistics," and "I have no access to that information."
Reports surfacing from South America suggest that cartels, overflowing with cash and influence, send truck convoys (not just trucks) to aging military warehouses in Central and South America, stuff them with firearms sent by the U.S. and other world powers over the decades to prop up various banana governments, and obtain more firepower in one load than an army of drug-lord indebted hos can buy on 4473 forms from legitimate dealers in a lifetime.
Pictures staged by federal authorities to display captured weaponry, featuring fragmentation grenades, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), 20mm and 40mm cannon shells and other military ordnance not available from any U.S. stores, support the claims that drug cartels hardly need to shop at retail and pay sales tax.
Additionally, the ever-popular communist-designed AK-47 and similar weapons might come through the U.S. in some cases, but the point of origin for these is obviously not the U.S., a fact completely ignored among all the fuss. One knowledgeable source believes that less than 10% of all Mexican cartel armaments come from U.S. sources, in the sense of illegal retail purchases smuggled across the border. Some U.S. originated arms, supplied to the Mexican government in an official capacity, leak into the black market as soldiers there desert by the thousands annually. No comments from the White House or the State Dept. have been received or are expected.