Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Mexico sues US gun manufacturers over arms trafficking toll

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:55 PM
In this January 19, 2016, file photo, handguns are displayed at the Smith & Wesson booth at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. The Mexican government sued US gun manufacturers and distributors, including some of the biggest names in guns like Smith & Wesson Brands, on August 4, 2021, in US federal court in Boston, arguing that their commercial practices have unleashed tremendous bloodshed in Mexico. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government sued United States gun manufacturers and distributors Wednesday in US federal court, arguing that their negligent and illegal commercial practices have unleashed tremendous bloodshed in Mexico.

The unusual lawsuit was filed in US federal court in Boston.

Among those being sued are some of the biggest names in guns, including Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc.; Beretta U.S.A. Corp.; Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC, and Glock Inc.

Another defendant is Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells guns from all but one of the named manufacturers to dealers around the US.

The Mexican government argues that the companies know that their practices contribute to the trafficking of guns to Mexico and facilitate it.

Mexico wants compensation for the havoc the guns have wrought in its country.

The Mexican government “brings this action to put an end to the massive damage that the Defendants cause by actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico,” the lawsuit said.

The government estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked to Mexico come from the US, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

And that in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides were linked to trafficked weapons.

Alejandro Celorio, legal adviser for the ministry, told reporters Wednesday that the damage caused by the trafficked guns would be equal to 1.7% to 2% of Mexico's gross domestic product.

The government will seek at least $10 billion in compensation, he said.

Mexico's GDP last year was more than $1.2 trillion.

Ebrard said the lawsuit was another piece of the government's efforts against guns.

“The priority is that we reduce homicides,” he said.

“We aren't looking to change American laws.”

Mexico did not seek the advice of the US government on the matter but advised the US Embassy before filing the lawsuit.

The sale of firearms is severely restricted in Mexico and controlled by the Defense Department.

But thousands of guns are smuggled into Mexico by the country's powerful drug cartels.

There were more than 36,000 murders in Mexico last year, and the toll has remained stubbornly high despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's pledge to pacify the country.

Mexico's nationwide murder rate in 2020 remained unchanged at 29 per 100,000 inhabitants.

By comparison, the US homicide rate in 2019 was 5.8 per 100,000.

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