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Cablegate: Northern Border Conference Focuses Sights On Arms

VZCZCXRO7260
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2952/01 2822231
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092231Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8584
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 002952

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
SUBJECT: NORTHERN BORDER CONFERENCE FOCUSES SIGHTS ON ARMS
TRAFFICKING COOPERATION

1. (SBU) Summary: GOM and USG law enforcement officials
huddled September 22-26 in Phoenix at the Northern Border
Conference to discuss expanding cooperation on combating arms
trafficking. Both sides support a greater exchange of
information on firearms sales as well as relevant legislation
on firearms, including statutes that speak to prosecuting
arms traffickers. Future progress will rely on progress by
sub-working groups on a wide range of action items in advance
of a follow-on conference in Tapachula, Mexico at the end of
October. End Summary.


Participants

2. (SBU) Officials from the Mexican Army (SEDENA), Navy
(SEMAR), the Attorney General's Office (PGR), the Federal
Police (SSP), Tax Collection (SAT), Intelligence (CISEN), the
President's Office, and Foreign Affairs (SRE) represented
Mexico at the meeting. The PGR representatives included
prosecutors, forensic experts and intelligence analysts. The
U.S. delegation included representatives of the Arizona
Attorney General's Office, ATF, CBP, DEA, the Defense
Attach's Office, DOJ, ICE, FBI, ONDCP, the Phoenix Police
Department, ONDCP and NAS. The DOJ representatives included
prosecutors from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico,
Texas, Utah and the DOJ Criminal Division. All of the U.S.
representatives invited to the conference participate in
firearms trafficking interdiction and/or prosecution that
includes operational or programmatic functions.


Seeing is Understanding

3. (SBU) The conference was tailored to requests by the
Mexican side. Off-site tours included a firearm licensee
establishment, a gun show, the Phoenix Police department, and
the ATF headquarters and firing range. These off-site tours
highlighted vendor security and compliance, forensic
processing of actual cases, and maintenance of firearm
forensic evidence. In their classroom sessions,
participants learned how U.S. officials detect and track
straw purchasers of firearms (individuals who purchase
multiple weapons for others or willingly allow their identity
to be used by others to purchase firearms) using databases
and E-trace (a program designed to trace weapons sales to the
last vendor) to support investigations. PGR requested
additional E-trace accounts to facilitate future tracing
efforts, and ATF immediately granted five accounts.

4. (SBU) The conference also pinpointed several follow-up
issues for the bilateral arms trafficking implementation
group (GC Armas). Vetted units, such as the ICE BEST (Border
Enforcement Security Task-force) unit, assume a key role in
the investigation of information on arms movements between
the two sides. Both sides agree on the need to establish
guidelines for strengthening these vetted units. In
addition, the U.S. and Mexican representatives discussed the
creation of an inter-institutional group dedicated to firearm
inspection and database information mining. This matter will
require follow-up as GC Armas seeks to enhance the collection
and utilization of intelligence from existing cases as well
as current arms seizure forensics in order to connect the
dots on trafficking patterns and traffickers.


Can We All Just Share More?

5. (SBU) Conference participants agreed that effective
prosecutions in each country rely on consistent data from
firearm seizures on both sides of the border. At the very
least, they need the following firearm data: (1) serial
number (including obliteration information), (2) make and
model, (3) importer information found on the weapon, (4) date
of seizure, (5) location of seizure, (6) nature and
circumstances of the seizure, (7) finder, seizing official,
and forensic processor of the firearm, (8) caliber and
action, (9) photograph and criminal history of individuals
arrested, and (10) point of contacts for locating seized
weapon.

6. (SBU) The two sides then need to share more information
with each other. Septel will discuss the GOM desire to
create a single database of all seized firearms -- which may

MEXICO 00002952 002 OF 002


or may not be a realizable objective. In the meantime,
though, the GOM and USG agreed to explore the potential for
sharing existing databases, with the USG on the hook to
explore its international protocols in order to allow PGR
CENAPI (the investigative branch of the Mexican Attorney
General) greater access to E-trace. Once the sides embrace a
structure and guidelines for sharing information, each
country will need to develop a consistent statistical method
for measuring fruitful investigations and successful
prosecutions. Such statistics will lend themselves to
tracking trends, developing targets for in-bound and outbound
port interdiction, creating "lookouts" in targeting systems,
and focusing attention on arms trafficking danger spots in
each country.

7. (SBU) The complexity of U.S. laws, in particular, the
differences between individual states and U.S. federal law,
is a source of immense confusion to Mexican Officials. Both
countries pledged to share translations of federal firearms
laws with an aim to foster greater GOM appreciation for the
kind of information required for bilateral case development
and the strict rules that U.S. law enforcement faces in the
apprehension and prosecution of offenders. Inasmuch as laws
dictate the forensic requirements needed for crime scene
management and evidence handling, each country will develop
training programs tailored to established guidelines.

8. (SBU) USG representatives agreed to explore creative
prosecution strategies to attack firearms trafficking,
including possible reliance on statutes involving conspiracy
to distribute and possession with intent to distribute, and
RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Institutions). The
U.S. conveyed its readiness to train prosecutors on both
sides of the border on using these possible tools more
effectively. In addition, the U.S. side said that it would
explore expanding the use of Article IV of the U.S. and
Mexico Extradition Treaty, which allows the extradition of
Mexican nationals from the U.S. to Mexico to be prosecuted
for trafficking weapons that fall into the hands of organized
criminals in Mexico.

9. (SBU) Comment: The Phoenix Bilateral Arms Trafficking
Conference opened the eyes of participants to the immense
amount of work that needs to occur on both sides of the
border to abate the flow of illegal weapons across the
border. The Mexicans acquired a better appreciation of the
challenges facing U.S. law enforcement in the investigation
and prosecution of individuals or entities involved in
firearm crimes. The USG pledged to provide Mexican officials
with training, as appropriate, to facilitate compliance with
U.S. legal requirements. Meanwhile, both sides agreed on the
need for greater information sharing on arms trafficked and
seized. Each side will need to continue to engage
aggressively on the issues raised at this conference as well
as the programs identified in the GC Armas sub-working groups
in order to demonstrate adequate progress in the run-up to
the Tapachula Arms Conference scheduled for the end of
October. 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 /

PASCUAL

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