Mexican Cartels Obtain Weapons From Central American Arsenals
By Dialogo April 07, 2011
Mexican drug cartels are obtaining military-type weapons from arsenals left over from civil wars and conflicts in Central America, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Douglas Fraser, affirmed.
“Over 50% of the military-type weapons that are flowing throughout the region have a large source within Central American stockpiles (…), left over from wars and conflicts in the past,” Fraser indicated during a U.S. Senate hearing.
In another appearance last week, Fraser identified the existence of between 45 and 80 million weapons in Central America, many of them left over from the conflicts of past decades.
“There are (…) weapons coming into Mexico from other parts of Latin America,” the head of the Northern Command, Adm. James Winnefeld, warned for his part.
“There are certain types of weapons that might come from south of Mexico,” Winnefeld said.
U.S. authorities have made “a lot of focused efforts” in working to control the Central American arsenals, Fraser said.
“But there’s a lot of funding available with these transnational criminal organizations, so corruption, slack processes are still a problem,” Fraser said.
A number of sophisticated pieces of military equipment used by Mexican drug cartels, such as night-vision goggles, are of unknown origin, Winnefeld noted.
The cartels “are getting more and more sophisticated,” he admitted.
Nevertheless, these groups do not “pose an existential threat to the government” led by Felipe Calderón, since “they don’t have political ambitions,” the admiral said.
The military commander praised the progress made by the military and police in Mexico in their fierce fight against the cartels.
“I believe that the opportunity exists, if we can support them properly, if they can continue the progress that they’re making, that they can turn the corner on this, but it still remains to be seen,” Winnefeld concluded.