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Cablegate: Mexico Arms Trafficking: Access to Confiscated

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232113
2009-10-29 18:14:00
09MEXICO3114
Embassy Mexico
CONFIDENTIAL

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INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003114

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO ARMS TRAFFICKING: ACCESS TO CONFISCATED
WEAPONS, A NECESSARY STEP
Classified By: Classified by Political Minister Counselor Gustavo Delga
do: Reason: 1.4 (b),(d).

1. (SBU) Summary. Mexico is a awash with illegal firearms
from unknown suppliers that arm organized crime groups and
fuel escalating violence. Investigation and prosecution of
illegal arms dealers is thwarted by in-fighting among Mexican
institutions and legal restrictions that prevent the sharing
of important information. Successful prosecution of illegal
arms traffickers will depend on U.S. law enforcement agencies
gaining access to confiscated weapons to form actionable
intelligence and launch investigations. End Summary


A Recipe for Problems: Too Many Cooks, Too Little Love

2. (C) Currently, government warehouses throughout Mexico
have approximately 140,000 weapons either confiscated from
crime scenes or gathered from check points. Some of these
weapons -- in storage for over 10 years -- are suspected to
have little investigative value. The warehouses are the
responsibility of the Mexican Army (SEDENA), which maintains
a piece-meal list of information on at least 64,000 weapons
collected since the start of the Calderon administration in
December 2006. SEDENA's decision to share this information
with us in July of this year prompted ICE and ATF to review
the data in an effort to open criminal investigations against
individuals suspected of knowingly selling weapons to
individuals linked to drug trafficking organizations (DTOs).
DIA analysts initiated a separate effort to identify the
origin of the weapons as well as trafficking patterns.
Unfortunately, the information is incomplete and lacks source
data, a reflection of the inconsistent and uneven collection
methods employed by Mexican Federal Police (SSP), Mexican
Attorney General (PGR), and SEDENA officials in their
investigation of confiscated weapons. (Septel analyzes
efforts to systematically collect and share weapons forensic
information.)

3. (SBU) PGR assumes legal authority for confiscated weapons
stored in warehouses that correspond to Mexican criminal
investigations. Once the PGR completes its initial
investigation, it turns over the actual weapon and all
information it has gathered over to the Mexican judiciary,
which retains jurisdiction over the weapon over the course of
judicial proceedings. Upon termination of all investigative
and judicial proceedings, SEDENA is assigned responsibility
for disposition or destruction of the weapons -- a process
that could take years.

4. (SBU) Besides the sheer magnitude of the weapons
collected, the GOM's disjointed approach for managing the
weapons it stores in its warehouses has fostered an ad-hoc
system with many accountability gaps. On frequent occasions,
GOM agencies -- with their conflicting priorities and
competing responsibilities -- openly dispute who has the lead
on key arms investigations. PGR holds tightly to its
authority as the prosecutorial, investigative, and forensic
arm of the GOM; while the SSP retains its position as the
lead federal law enforcement agency, an investigative role
recently expanded in new legislation. Both agencies have the
authority to conduct crime scene investigation and collect
forensic evidence, yet information sharing across
bureaucratic lines is virtually nonexistent. SSP generally
agrees to share information on cases only when the case is
transferred to the prosecutor (PGR).

5. (SBU) U.S. law enforcement agencies have a strong
interest in obtaining information from weapon seizures as
this information forms the basis of intelligence, follow-on
domestic investigations, and potential prosecutions. A
February 2009 Mexican Supreme Court ruling, however,
restricts any access to weapons that are involved in court
cases. The USG has had limited success obtaining access to
warehouses and weapons, with the exception of some high-level
visits, affording rare opportunities to get a look inside the
warehouses. Even though the GOM provided information on
64,000 confiscated arms, the incomplete information needs to
be verified and experts need access to the actual weapons to
obtain additional evidence -- source data, obliteration data
and pictures -- to provide the basis for investigations and
subsequent U.S. judicial cases. SEDENA insists it is willing
to grant U.S. law enforcement agencies access to confiscated

MEXICO 00003114 002 OF 002


weapons and blames PGR for any denials. In mid-August,
SEDENA reviewed with us twelve instances in which its
approval of our official requests for access were overturned
by the PGR, based on the February 2009 Supreme Court case.

6. (SBU) Comment. Claims by Mexican and U.S. officials that
upwards of 90 percent of illegal recovered weapons can be
traced back to the U.S. is based on an incomplete survey of
confiscated weapons. In point of fact, without wider access
to the weapons seized in Mexico, we really have no way of
verifying these numbers. Joint efforts to develop
intelligence that can serve the impetus for investigations
and prosecutions of individuals or companies that market
firearms to the cartels, will require Mexican and USG law
enforcement agencies to share essential crime scene forensic
information on a real time basis. Post law enforcement
agencies will continue to work closely with their Mexican
counterparts to break down institutional divisions and
facilitate more information sharing on arms trafficking cases
both among the Mexican agencies and with U.S. partners. End
Comment
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
FEELEY

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