« On rumors, alcoholism and a journalist | Main | Push-back on Utah migrant bill »


The huge mark-up for weapons

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.




TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The huge mark-up for weapons:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


So what percentage of the competing drug cartels' weapons DOES originate in the US?

Apparently this report states that the 90% figure is "a myth" and that the actual number "may be significantly lower." Do they support that assessment by anything other than wishful thinking?

Cheap weapons are readily available in the US, and can easily be smuggled into Mexico and sold for a big profit. Anyone who really believes in free market principles would also believe that the vast majority of handguns and assault rifles used by Mexican drug cartels come from the cheapest, easiest source: the US.

Grenades, anti-tank weapons, etc. probably come from elsewhere - unless the Supreme Court overturns the automatic weapons ban.

sean hanny

right you are, Mr Randolph....also, I read that Chris Hedges article on Truthdig last week, I love Hedges, he is my favorite journalist/investigator...one of them, anyway...


Here is an article on an arms manufacturer in Germany, Heckler Koch who is suspected of illegally exporting arms to Mexico.

John Randolph

After it is all said and done, does it really matter where the guns come from?

Lying about it matters. AND, the cartels have the means to purchase them from anywhere is the world.

Do you think it matters to a drug addict where his or her dope comes from? Price matters, but the demand or need ultimately is what will be what matters.

Legalize dope and much of the demand for weapons will go away. Make Calderon and Mexico get its act together, and there also will be less need for weapons.

With that said, who really has an investment in maintaining the status quo?

This may open your eyes:


The comments to this entry are closed.



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

Send a story suggestion or news tip.

Read Tim's stories at news.mcclatchy.com.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @timjohnson4

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3 4 5
    6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    13 14 15 16 17 18 19
    20 21 22 23 24 25 26
    27 28 29 30 31