MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government on Monday filed another lawsuit against US companies it says are responsible for the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.
The first lawsuit, which was recently dismissed, was directed at US weapons manufacturers. The second, which Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said was filed in Arizona on Monday, appears to be aimed at arms dealers.
“We are suing them because there is clearly a pattern, we maintain that it is obvious that there is arms trafficking and that it is known that these arms are going to our country,” Ebrard said.
Ebrard promised last week that the new lawsuit would target gun stores or dealers in US border states who sell guns to “phony” buyers who pass them on to smugglers, who then bring the guns to Mexico.
Ebrard said about 60% of the guns seized in Mexico in recent years are believed to have been sold in 10 US counties, mostly along the border. Mexico has very strict restrictions on gun ownership, but drug cartel violence has cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the country in recent years.
“We are going to show that many of these points of sale where they sell these products in these counties that I mentioned, are dealing with figureheads and criminal charges must be filed,” Ebrard said last week in an appearance before the Mexican Senate.
A recently enacted US law defines false purchase as a crime and provides sentences of up to 15 to 25 years if the crime is related to drug trafficking.
The announcement comes several days after a US federal judge dismissed Mexico’s first lawsuit against US arms manufacturers. Ebrard said Mexico would appeal that decision.
The judge ruled that Mexico’s claims did not go beyond the broad protection afforded to gun manufacturers by the Law for the Protection of the Legal Trade in Arms passed in 2005.
The law protects gun manufacturers from damages “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm.
Mexico was seeking at least $10 billion in compensation, but legal experts had viewed the suit as a long shot.
The Mexican government estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked to Mexico come from the United States, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said that in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides in Mexico were linked to arms trafficking.
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