Just Where Do Mexican Cartel Weapons Come From?

Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

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Defense and Security Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This essay will provide an overview of the major policy positions articulated in the literature pertaining to Mexican cartel weapons origins. The four major positions related to firearms are those of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), the Mexican government under the Felipe Calderón administration, US interest groups focusing on firearms regulation, and US interest groups focusing on firearms deregulation. The essay will then analyze the major sources of Mexican cartel weapons and then provide conclusions stemming from this analysis and the future trends identified. A component of this assessment will be the provision of gross estimates of the weapons sources themselves in order to show that Mexican cartel weapons origins are diverse in nature and have been increasing in sophistication over time from basic civilian arms into paramilitary and military arms. Part of the reason for this increase in sophistication has been the rise of Los Zetas which has resulted in a deadly ‘arms race’ taking place between the various Mexican cartels.

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© 2011 Taylor and Francis

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