U.S. –Colombia Target Weapons Traffickers
By Dialogo February 04, 2011This article leaves the mistaken impression that most of the guns found in Mexico and other South American countrys come from lawful gundealers in the U.S. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Only 17 percent of the guns found seized by Mexican authorities have been traced to U.S. gun dealers. I have written on this: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba735 The majority of weapons (machine guns, bombs, assualt rifles come from country's which don't track sales. And of the guns from the U.S. it turns out a shockingly high number come directly from programs that the U.S. government instigated in a failed, flawed attempt to follow gun trafficers. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357550n
A U.S.-Colombian joint task force shut down a significant weapons trafficking operation this month that attempted to provide munitions to terrorists and drug traffickers in Latin America, U.S. authorities told Diálogo.
Colombian, Honduran, and Nicaraguan defendants conspired to provide grenade launchers, grenades, automatic rifles, and other weapons to a known terror group, an indictment filed in a U.S. federal court in Miami alleges.
"This case will send a message to those individuals and criminal organizations who attempt to profit by illegally supplying weapons to terrorist organizations," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Miami. "This investigation is another fine example in protecting our national security by ensuring that the sale and distribution of weapons is done lawfully and preventing narcotics from being imported into the U.S."
The task force will continue to “aggressively pursue” others who support terrorist organizations that could potentially do harm to the U.S. and her allies, he said.
Officials arrested six men as a result of the indictment and charged them with conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization.
ICE officials said those charged thought they were dealing with members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group considered a terrorists organization by the governments of Colombia and the U.S.
But they were dealing with undercover drug agents.
Nicaraguan Franklin William McField-Bent, known as “Buda” in the drug trade, is charged with four counts of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and three narcotics counts. He was arrested in Barranquilla, Colombia. Also arrested and charged were co-defendants Jeison Archibold, a Colombian national; Miguel Villela, known as “Don Miguel,” a Honduran national; Juan Carlos Cuao Camacho, a Colombian national; Fausto Aguero Alverado, a Honduran national; and Edwin Rodriguez Leon, a Colombian national.
"Drug trafficking is fuel for the terrorists' engine," said Mark R. Trouville, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami office.
McField-Bent and colleagues attempted to distribute cocaine for importation into the U.S, the indictment alleges. They face a maximum life sentence.
The indictments emerged from a joint effort by U.S. and Colombian authorities to contain illicit weapons-for-drugs exchanges in Central and South America.
"This indictment drains the tank,” Trouville said.
No details were released on the quantity or source of the seized weapons.
Many weapons used for drug-related terrorism in Latin America are bought or stolen in the U.S.
Other sources are from fallen soldiers in Latin America and from black market dealers of surplus Russian military equipment.
AR-15s, AK-47s proliferate
The high-powered rifles heading south from the U.S. include AR-15s, AK-47s, armor-piercing .50-caliber rifles and grenade launchers, according to authorities.
Many are purchased by “straw” buyers, who resell them for illegal purposes.
Federal authorities say more than 60,000 U.S. guns of all types have been recovered in Mexico in the past four years.
“Any individual attempting to sell weapons to designated terrorist organizations poses a grave threat to our national security and the security of our allies,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) launched Project Gunrunner in 2006, a program that now involves more than 220 agents who make criminal cases against gun traffickers and about 165 inspectors who check gun dealers for compliance with gun laws. The agency has conducted about 1,000 inspections in the border region, leading to the seizure of more than 400 firearms.
U.S. authorities have historically focused on capturing drugs moving north from Mexico rather than guns moving south. Only 70 guns were seized at U.S. border crossings in 2008.
More than 23,000 people have been killed as a result of drug cartel violence in Mexico since 2006.
About 10 percent of those killed in Mexico’s drug war are police, military, security officers and other public officials, according to the report Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Though the majority of the guns used in these drug wars enter Mexico illegally with no paper trail, many of their sources can be identified.
When a gun is found at a crime scene, Mexican law enforcement or military agencies can request that ATF trace the guns. The tracing system, which has been a key law enforcement tool within the U.S. for decades, uses serial numbers to identify where and by whom the gun was originally purchased.
New data provided by ATF shows that from 2006 to 2009 nearly 19,000 guns originally sold in the U.S. were linked to Mexican crimes.