This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iron River (partially) Disrupted

Phoenix-based gun dealer George Iknadosian, will soon go on trial to defend allegations that he sold hundreds of weapons - mostly AK-47 - to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

The complete NYT story is here.

I also prepared a piece some time ago, here.

I have various reactions to this news. First, this guy was not the Sinaloa cartel's only source of armament, but considering how fast this group goes through bullets and weapons, I must wonder how US efforts to break up gun smuggling networks will affect the battles raging between Mexico's DTOs.

Inside the US, the ATF and other investigative bodies do not target gun smugglers based on their cartel faction. They follow a lead, gather evidence, build their case, and present it to the US attorney's office before gathering arrest warrants and such.

But as this process picks up speed, and I know it will under this administration, it will be interesting to see how a constricted illegal gun flow to Mexico affects the DTOs operational readiness to defend turf and/or go on the offensive.

I'm no military man, but it seems logical that if you're lacking in bullets and guns, you're going to defend, not attack. And lately it has been a number of offensive strategies that have kept the murder numbers high - Mexico already broke 1,000 murders for 2009 by the way.

A second thought has to do with the Mexican military. Will this supposedly incorruptible force become more compromised over time as the DTOs focus their bribery power on the men and women who control the army's arm supplies?

We already know that the Mexican army faces a serious desertion rate, and those who leave the army and join the DTOs are in a perfect position to engage their friends who are still in the army with cash and requests for help with raiding arms depots. We'll see if that happens.

A final thought - and this is more related to my next blog post - the trial of Iknadosian will reveal just how organized and well greased these smuggling systems are. US citizens still do not appreciate how effective and well organized the Mexican organized criminal factions can be. They have been in place for decades, and only until recently, they've been flying below radar. This fact alone explains why there are so many mid- to low-level DTOs operatives in place in all 50 states. Some of them smuggle guns, but most of them work on the other side of this market - bringing products into the US and distributing them to a neighborhood near you.

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