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How American Guns Destabilize Mexico

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All the freaking out about migrants from Mexico and Central America completely ignores how the U.S. itself destabilizes these places in a wide variety of ways, including its corporate policies, its drug habits, and its geopolitical ambitions. It also destabilizes the region due to its gun fanaticism. As you may have heard, the Sinaloa Cartel went into a total war-type battle in Culiacan last week and defeated the government. A big reason why?

But on Thursday in the Sinaloan city of Culiacan, the cartel gunmen were everywhere. They openly drove in trucks with mounted machine guns, blockaded streets flashing their Kalashnikovs and burned trucks unleashing plumes of smoke like it was a scene in Syria. They took control of the strategic points in the metro area, shut down the airport, roads, and government buildings and exchanged fire with security forces for hours, leaving at least eight people dead. In contrast, everyone else had to act like ghosts, hiding behind locked doors, not daring to step outside.

And in this unusual battle, the Sinaloa Cartel won. Their uprising was in response to soldiers storming a house on Thursday and arresting Ovidio Guzman, the 28-year old son of convicted kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. In February, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had indicted Ovidio Guzman on trafficking cocaine, marijuana and meth. But after hours of cartel chaos, Mexico’s federal government gave soldiers the go ahead to release him. It capitulated.

This change has not come overnight. It is the result of a bloody trend of cartels developing insurgent tactics over many years. The use of burning vehicles to block roads was taken from militant protesters; cartels use it to stop the movement of troops and put pressure on the government. The cartels have armed up with stolen military weapons and an endless stream of rifles from the United States. Between 2007 and 2018, more than 150,000 firearms seized in Mexico were traced to U.S. gun shops and factories.And cartels from the Texas border to Guadalajara have learned to protect their leaders with rings of gunmen who can cause trouble to stop their capture.

Obviously it is too simplistic to blame all of Mexico’s problems on the United States. But the U.S. is absolutely responsible for many of them and that includes the incredible amount of armaments controlled by the drug cartels. The U.S. is just an open store for high-powered weapons and because some yahoos think they are going to resist government intrusion through owning a bunch of weapons, an entire region can go to hell through violence.

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