High-powered guns purchased at Houston-area stores by a Gulf Cartel cell and smuggled across the border for the syndicate's bloody warfare have been traced to at least 55 killings in Mexico, including the deaths of police officers, civilians and gangsters, federal agents said Thursday.
The recent tracking of firearms is the result of a four-month anti-cartel operation focused largely on Houston, which the federal government contends is the No. 1 spot in the United States for buying guns that later are used in underworld massacres and other crimes in Mexico.
“As long as we are the cheapest, easiest place to buy guns, they'll keep doing it,” said Dewey Webb, head of the Houston division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which includes the Rio Grande Valley and reaches to Del Rio. “These cartel armies want the best and newest available.”
Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden, who was in Houston to announce results of the operation, said the ATF was able to investigate a backlog of 700 requests from the Mexican government to trace the history of guns from crime scenes to their original purchasers in United States. Also, agents seized 141,440 rounds of ammunition and 443 firearms, according to the Justice Department.
Agents inspected gun dealer records and knocked on doors to ask people what happened to guns they purchased that ended up in Mexico. Among the cases that have yet to be resolved are those involving a small-town Texas policeman who bought a few military-style rifles, left them in his car and — on the same night — forgot to lock a door. He couldn't explain why he had not filed a police report or why he visited Mexico the next day.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Gulf Cartel buying guns in Houston
The basic economics of the drug war hold that drugs flow north while money and guns flow south. The Houston Chronicle has an article today ("Guns from Houston tied to 55 Mexico deaths," Oct. 2) focused on south-bound gun smuggling. Here's how it begins: