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Of Drones, Guns and Cooperation

Through numerous articles over recent months, arguments have been presented exclaiming the devolution of the Mexican state, and at least on one occasion, referred to it as a "failed state". So, the question must be asked if by changing of White House occupants, that the perceived realities of the "unrest" in Mexico is real, or imagined (fabricated)? While I have been preoccupied by other responsibilities, others have addressed one of the issues that will be discussed in this article. This entry, in reverse order, covers the opportunities of cooperation between the United States and Mexico in combating the drug cartels that have threatened to rend Mexico apart, the realities (or "myths") associated with the origins of the weapons arming the Mexican drug cartels, and finally, the ultimate wisdom of selling Predator drones (UAVs) to Mexico to help fight the war that rages within its borders.

It is admirable that the U.S. and Mexico have announced once again that they intend to work together to fight the drug cartels. Of course, through the last years of the previous Administration, the passage of funding for the Merida Initiative was intended to "... combat the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism in the Western Hemisphere." A question of focus and strategy is of course, warranted.

Emerging from a conference with U.S. officials, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora said more meetings are needed to develop plans to bring warring drug cartels under control along the border. Medina-Mora said Mexico planned to begin checking 10 percent of the vehicles entering the country from the U.S. for illegal weapons and will more closely check outgoing vehicles for drugs and money.

Early in the process, however, little progress is being reported on reaching any bilateral accords. This follows an announcement earlier this week by President Calderón of Mexico that he didn't see the two countries working side by side on the effort.

It is important to note that throughout the months since Calderón mounted his effort to combat the drug cartels, one theme has been repeated. That theme? American guns and ammunition were being smuggled to Mexico from the border states and fueling the violence. A repeat of an article from an admittedly pro-gun website is warranted here. Some people might simply reject that statement as the rantings of "2nd Amendment wackos." Time and again, it is repeated that American weapons and drug use are the cause the violence in Mexico. However, as with many statistics, the statement that 90% of the guns in Mexico originated in the U.S. is faulty. In fact, according to a clarification published by Fox News, only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S. The key distinction is that serial numbers show that only 17% of the weapons can be traced to the United States.

The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.

What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

To think that the cartels are not able to fly shipments of guns and ammunition from other sources. like South America (Guatemala, Columbia, Venezuela) or Europe using their own airplanes would be naïve. And yet, part of the newest initiative to assist Mexico with its problem is to earmark $400 million to help search more vehicles heading south across the border.

On a final note. Although not included in the official announcement by the Adminstration about aid to Mexico in fighting the war against the cartels., according to former U.S. Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, consideration was being given to selling Predator drones to Mexico

Discussing Mexico's war against the drug cartels, Cisneros said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered U.S. military equipment and aircraft to the Mexican government during her Mexico City trip Wednesday. Mexico would buy the equipment and operate it, not U.S. military forces. "Predator attacks on Mexican drug lords in Mexico are just around the corner," Cisneros said.

We should probably take a deep breath before considering selling military equipment to Mexico where the infiltration of the military by the cartels has long been a problem.

Yes, America has a drug problem. That fact alone, however, does not make the narcotics trade and the associated violence an American made problem. Yes, some weapons from the U.S. side of the border are finding their way illegally to Mexico. Ignoring the fact that weapons will find their way to an armed conflict from many sources would be a mistake. Selling high-end military equipment to Mexico and permitting that equipment to be operated by the Mexican government may also present a problem. Although with hesitation, allowing for the benefit of the doubt for now is perhaps in order.