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U.S. Ambassador to Mexico says both sides are working to disrupt illegal firearms trafficking

Mexico City, Mexico — The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, says both the U.S. and Mexico are working in coordination to disrupt illegal firearms trafficking.

During the December 4 Roundtable on Combating Arms Trafficking and Best Practices, Salazar said he reaffirmed President Joe Biden’s commitment to stopping illegal firearms trafficking and maintaining close cooperation with Mexico.

“Through the Bicentennial Framework and the High Level Security Dialogue, with respect for their respective sovereignties, our countries work daily in an operational manner and at all levels to interrupt cross-border arms trafficking at all its stages.

“This round table exemplifies the historical coordination between our governments to achieve results that translate into greater security and well-being for our nations,” he said.

I recognized the work of our partners in Mexico in the presence of the Undersecretary of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), Luis Rodríguez Bucio, the head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, Felipe de Jesús Gallo, the head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office in matters of Organized Crime, Alfredo Higuera Bernal and the person in charge of the Legal and International Affairs Deputy Prosecutor’s Office, Miguel Ángel Méndez Buenos Aires, of the Prosecutor’s Office General of the Republic (FGR), as well as the general director of Political Affairs for North America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Cristina Planter, he added.

By working as partners, we better protect our nations because the deeper our cooperation, the greater the results. Through our commitment and joint efforts, among other points, we can highlight:

In the United States, more than 600,000 firearms are seized. Through the bipartisan Safe Communities Act, the United States Department of Justice has charged more than 200 people with crimes related to firearms trafficking to Mexico.

Salazar reports hundreds have been arrested and thousands of weapons seized in cross-border cooperation.
Photo: Courtesy Ken Salazar December 4, 2023.

The eTrace system has allowed us greater coordination to disrupt firearms trafficking, track those weapons and hold those who traffic them accountable.

To date, there are 327 open investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has intercepted 3,823 firearms that would have entered Mexico.

In 2023, US authorities launched 655 investigations and arrested 463 suspects based on information obtained through eTrace and other mechanisms.

Since the beginning of Operation Southbound, the number of investigations into firearms trafficking into Mexico has increased 40 percent and the number of firearms seized in those investigations has increased 11 percent.

Through a comprehensive strategy that includes the entire United States Government and state authorities, we achieved results that are perceived on both sides of the border.

Operation Last Mile, which targeted operatives, associates and distributors affiliated with the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, from May 1, 2022 to May 1, 2023, included more than 1,436 investigations. Among other results, we can highlight 3,337 arrests and the seizure of 8,496 firearms.

Our cooperation is seen in the fact that Mexican officials from the Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, participate in this round table.

Dialogue and an exchange of experiences was also discussed between the Secretary of the Navy, Prosecutors’ offices and state authorities, along with U.S. officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Homeland Security Investigations Office (HSI) and the International Bureau of Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), he detailed.