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01/03/2011

Mexico's spate of hand grenades

Take a wild guess at how many hand grenades the Mexican authorities have confiscated from the bad guys from Dec. 10, 2006, through Dec. 23 of last year:

1) 416

2) 1,809

3) 4,002

4) 7,516

The correct answer is No. 4, according to a joint statement over the weekend by the Attorney General’s Office, the army, the navy, the Interior Ministry and the Public Security Secretariat.

Mexico is awash in guns. Everyone knows that.  Even if it only has one official gun store, as the Washington Post noted a few days ago in this story. But it is also flooded with hand grenades. From what I am told, some of the grenade stockpiles are coming up from leftover military depots in Central America from the 1980s.

Some have been taken/bought/stolen from the Mexican army itself. A remainder are homemade grenades. The criminal organizations buy what are known as “hulls,” or the outer shells. They obtain timing fuses and explosives themselves and arm the grenades. The homemade kind are not particularly reliable. News reports indicate that many don’t detonate.

What are the grenades used for? Generally, I’d say, intimidation. They’ve been thrown at newspaper offices, at parties of rival drug cartels, at a U.S. consulate, and at police precincts. The latter is occurring frequently in Nuevo Leon state where many police are either allied or on the payroll of criminal groups. Rival groups trying to break the police/cartel alliance toss a couple of grenades at the police stations. A powerful grenade blast or two can cause one to reevaluate one’s thinking.

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sean hanny

just had 2 grenades explode 2 blocks from my home, man, the concussive factor was heavy, it was like a gut punch...of course it was narco related

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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