The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claims that since 2006, 68,000 firearms traceable back to the United States have been seized in Mexico. I know the big question is, “How many did the BATFE let walk into the country under their supervision?”

Over two thousand.

The message still being pushed is that a majority of the guns found in Mexico originate in the United States. From the AP:

The flood of tens of thousands of weapons underscores complaints from Mexico that the U.S. is responsible for arming the drug cartels plaguing its southern neighbor. Six years of violence between warring cartels have killed more than 47,000 people in Mexico.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released its latest data covering 2007 through 2011. According to ATF, many of the guns seized in Mexico and submitted to ATF for tracing were recovered at the scenes of cartel shootings while others were seized in raids on illegal arms caches. All the recovered weapons were suspected of being used in crimes in Mexico.

Let’s narrow our focus a bit to a few words in the second sentence.

…many of the guns seized in Mexico and submitted to ATF for tracing…

The 68,000 guns supposedly traceable back to the US were just a sample of the guns confiscated by Mexican authorities. That makes me wonder: how many guns total were seized? If they confiscated 250,000 guns over the last six years, and only 68,000 were US, that’s a fraction of the total pie.

We really need some context on this number.

Oh sure, they give you the whole “68 percent of weapons confiscated are US” line, but again, that just 68 percent of weapons submitted to the BATFE. That’s not 68 percent of all the weapons.

I point you to this article from 2009:

The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.

What’s true, an ATF spokeswoman told, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency’s assistant director, “is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.”

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

“Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

A Look at the Numbers

In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced — and of those, 90 percent — 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover — were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.

So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:

— The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from SpainIsrael and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

— Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.

– South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.

— Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.

— The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.

— Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America’s cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

Until we get all the data, the percentages and statistics coming out of the BATFE are useless.  Give us the context, not the Mexican talking points.

But then, even if it came back that 90 percent of the weapons found at Mexican crime scenes came from the United States, that’s no reason for free men to surrender their right to bear arms.  It’s not an indictment of our liberties, but of Mexico’s poor border security.

Don’t blame us because you don’t secure your perimeter.

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