According to a recently released U.S. diplomatic cable, a Mexican officer assigned to guard President Felipe Calderón had been leaking information to drug cartels in exchange for bribes, training hit men through a private security firm, and supplying military weapons to Mexican drug cartels. This corrupt official was arrested by the Mexican Attorney General in late 2008. The weapons this corrupt official supplied to the cartels were almost certainly of U.S. origin.
Knowledge that the cartels are obtaining firearms from corrupt military and law enforcement personnel is nothing new. In recent years, more than 150,000 Mexican troops have defected to work for the cartels – taking their U.S. made service-rifles with them. And recently released State Department cables show that large quantities of U.S. government-sold or lawfully exported rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and explosives, as well as ammunition, have been seized by Mexico’s military and law enforcement during cartel-related raids over the last several years. Though some of the weapons were sold or exported to other countries, many were sold directly to the Mexican government.
We continue to applaud President Calderon’s efforts to crack down on the drug cartels and the systemic corruption that exists within all levels of the Mexican military, law enforcement, and even his own inner-circle.
Still, it has become clear that many of the weapons misused by the cartels have come from the Mexican government itself. President Calderon needs to look inward if he is to stem the flow of these weapons to the cartels.
Corruption at such a high level within the government raises important concerns about the security of information passed on by ATF to Mexican law enforcement about the identity of purchasers of firearms and the dealers that lawfully sold those firearms.