Stratfor, the Austin-based company that does strategic forecasting, has an interesting new report on the supply of guns to Mexico used by the criminal narcotics organizations. The report, available here, suggests that the view once expressed in a U.S. government report that 90 percent of weapons used by the cartels originate in the United States is a myth. The true figure may be significantly lower.
But what I found interesting is their analysis of the mark-up price of weapons. Just as you or I would buy daily groceries at Safeway rather than Dean and Deluca, or any other pricy food mart, the cartels also look for the cheapest way to buy weapons.
That said, they have a lot of cash and will spend whatever is necessary. Here's the cogent part of the report:
To really understand Mexico’s gun problem, however, it is necessary to recognize that the same economic law of supply and demand that fuels drug smuggling into the United States also fuels gun smuggling into Mexico. Black-market guns in Mexico can fetch up to 300 percent of their normal purchase price — a profit margin rivaling the narcotics the cartels sell. Even if it were somehow possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexico border and shut off all the guns coming from the United States, the cartels would still be able to obtain weapons elsewhere — just as narcotics would continue to flow into the United States from other places. The United States does provide cheap and easy access to certain types of weapons and ammunition, but as demonstrated by groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, weapons can be easily obtained from other sources via the black arms market — albeit at a higher price.
There has clearly been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border, but it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons and ammunition, it is by no means the source of 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexican cartels, as is commonly asserted.