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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Escalation and IEDs in Mexico

Rocket and grenade launchers, high powered machine guns, .50 caliber Barrett sniper rifles, and fragmentation grenades have become common on the lists of items seized by the Mexican army in 2009.

A number of analysts in both Mexico and the United States have noted a trend that shows an escalation in violence driven by the use of more powerful weapons and explosives, especially grenades. Fragmentation grenades are easy to come by in Guatemala, and it's nothing to smuggle them north. Just last week, the AFI stopped two men in a truck near Veracruz (read Zetas affiliation), and found in a hidden compartment 66 frag grenades, allegedly purchased from an arms dealer in Guatemala.

On 19 February, an "armed commando" stole between 20 and 30 kilos of explosives from a mining company in Durango. Five days before that heist, another 121 kilos of explosives and 230 blasting caps were stolen from a separate mining company. Some of the explosives from the first theft were recovered, but most of it remains somewhere in the Mexican black market.

"There's only one reason why someone would steal that much explosive," an agent with the ATF told me last week, raising an important question: when will we begin to see improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Mexico?

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