Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Is the US stoking the drug war?

Posted by Charles II on February 18, 2011

Bill Conroy, Narconews:

Another series of leaked State Department cables made public this week by WikiLeaks lend credence to investigative reports on gun trafficking and the drug war published by Narco News as far back as 2009.

The big battles in the drug war in Mexico are “not being fought with Saturday night specials, hobby rifles and hunting shotguns,” Narco News reported in March 2009, against the grain, at a time when the mainstream media was pushing a narrative that assigned the blame for the rising tide of weapons flowing into Mexico to U.S. gun stores and gun shows.

Rather, we reported at the time, “the drug trafficking organizations are now in possession of high-powered munitions in vast quantities that can’t be explained by the gun-show loophole.”

Those weapons, found in stashes seized by Mexican law enforcers and military over the past several years, include U.S.-military issued rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and explosives.

The State Department cables released recently by WikiLeaks support Narco News’ reporting and also confirm that our government is very aware of the fact that U.S military munitions are finding their way into Mexico, and into the hands of narco-trafficking organizations, via a multi-billion dollar stream of private-sector and Pentagon arms exports.

Narco News offered an answer to that question in March 2009, when it reported that the deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports, measured in the billions of dollars.

Those exports are approved through the State Department, under a program known as Direct Commercial Sales. A sister program, called Foreign Military Sales, is overseen by the Pentagon and also taps U.S. contractors to manufacture weapons (such as machine guns and grenades) for export to foreign entities, including companies and governments.

Now, the reason I stumbled onto Conroy’s report is that there has been a very odd incident between the US and Argentina. Briefly, an official cargo from the US contained items that the Argentines didn’t like, including a sealed container which they impounded. Eventually the container was opened. Some of the cargo was rejected and a formal protest was filed. The State Department went into the familiar, “Brown people say the darndest things” routine:

More below the fold

The cargo was duly manifested in accordance…the issue of non-serialized replacement barrels for three machine guns to be used in live-fire training was raised by U.S. officials with their Argentine counterparts…Communications equipment was included in manifests provided to both RENAR and customs officials under “radios and computers” or “major end items.” …In reference to the “psychotropic drugs” and “narcotics” to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred, the U.S. Department of State notes that among the non-declared items were a medical kit and first-aid items belonging to one of the team members, a U.S. Army medic….These items were not declared on the official manifest based on precedent …The remaining non-declared items that the Government of Argentina has detained include miscellaneous items such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), batteries, clothing, office supplies, coolers for beverages, folding chairs, candy, and the U.S. team members’ personal gear.

This is not how the Argentines tell the story. According to TeleSur, there were machine guns and rifles that had not been declared, as well as a sealed container. The personal gear of the Americans included weapons stashed in their luggage. There were data storage devices labeled “Secret.” There were devices used to “control” communications and encryption devices. They don’t sound like they buy the story about the drugs being part of a standard medical kit. One-third of the cargo remains impounded. This follows an episode in August, 2010, in which a cargo was returned due to a failure of the US to respond to a request for a manifest.

It’s not clear whether the Argentines are simply asserting the right to control their borders by insisting that the US supply accurate manifests, or whether they really think the US was trying to slip materials useful for covert ops into the country. Following the uprising in the Middle East, it would be no surprise if the Empire beefed up its psyops capabilities. But the issue of US exports of weapons, and what exactly those exports are being used for is beginning to look like an important one.

Conroy adds:

And as food for thought on that front, a former U.S. Customs Inspector, who asked that his name not be used, brought to Narco News’ attention a federal criminal case now pending in U.S. court in Nashville.

In that case, five top officials with a gun manufacturer called Sabre Defence Industries LLC stand accused of illegally trafficking gun parts, such as gun barrels and components, on an international scale. Sabre, now shut down in the wake of its run-in with the feds, made and marketed assault rifles and machine-gun components for military, law enforcement and civilian use worldwide.

In fact, its biggest client was the U.S. military…

Although Conroy does not say so, weapons sales were the financing arm of Oliver North’s “off-the-shelf” foreign policy of the 1980s. So it’s not impossible that weapons sales remain a feature of America’s increasingly inexplicable foreign policy. I can kind of buy the possibility that gun shops in Mexico are refurbishing weapons from the Contra Wars, but 25 year-old grenades seems like a stretch.

Anyway, these are stories to watch.

One Response to “Is the US stoking the drug war?”

  1. jo6pac said

    Yep the new boss is the same as the old boss. I’m glad that South America is standing up to this shit because if they don’t all hell will break loose in said country on the idea it’s to stop drugs and bad guys. It’s really about change in local govt. to some one that is friendly to Amerika interest. we just can’t leave country/citizens of the world alone can we.

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