November 14, 2023

Reps. Castro, Goldman, and Thompson Introduce Bill to Curb Trafficking of American Guns into Mexico

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Congressman Dan Goldman (NY-10), and Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-04) introduced the Disarming Cartels Act to curtail the trafficking of the U.S.-made firearms and ammunition southbound over the U.S.-Mexico border. Guns originating in the United States power human and drug-trafficking and other illicit activities by transnational criminal organizations in Mexico and beyond. The Disarming Cartels Act has also been co-sponsored by Representatives Dina Titus (NV-01), Danny Davis (IL-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Pat Ryan (NY-19), and Jared Moskowitz (FL-23).

Mexico has one gun store in the entire country and restrictive firearm regulations. Yet, on an annual basis, there are nearly 30,000 annual firearm deaths in Mexico. More than 500,000 American-made guns are trafficked to Mexico every year, and seventy percent of firearms recovered from crime scenes in Mexico can be traced to the United States. Criminal organizations operating in Mexico purchase firearms and ammunition from U.S.-based retailers to target law enforcement and military personnel, harm citizens, and enforce control of territory. Transnational criminal organizations are known to exchange drugs like fentanyl to U.S. buyers for firearms.

“For years, American guns have fueled violence, instability, and forced migration across the Western Hemisphere,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “The United States can – and must – do more to stop the weapons we manufacture from landing in the hands of criminal organizations that smuggle fentanyl and other deadly drugs to the United States. The Disarming Cartels Act will disrupt cross-border trafficking through greater interagency collaboration at home and enhanced coordination with our partners in Mexico – protecting innocent people on both sides of the border.”

“Democrats and Republicans alike recognize the devastating threat posed by the fentanyl trade and human smuggling and trafficking, all of which are predominantly controlled by Mexican drug cartels at our southern border,” said Congressman Dan Goldman. “But Republicans simply ignore that the source of the cartels’ power is the hundreds of thousands of American-manufactured weapons of war that flow out of the United States and into the hands of the cartels. If we want to address crime across our southern border, then we must address the exportation of American guns across the border. The Disarming Cartels Act will do just that.”

“Firearms purchased in the United States are being illegally trafficked to Mexico, arming the cartels and fueling the fentanyl epidemic,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “Going after the bad actors that facilitate the exchange of guns for fentanyl will help us crack down on illegal drug trade while preventing firearms from getting into the hands of cartels and other criminal organizations. The Disarming Cartels Act will help us secure our border, reduce the flow of fentanyl in our country, and disrupt the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico. As Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I’m proud to support this important bill with Reps. Goldman, Castro, Titus, Danny Davis, and Eleanor Holmes Norton.”

“It is clear that if we want to weaken the cartels and stem the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., we need to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico,” said Congressman Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee. “Ignoring this fact - as Republicans often do - means we won’t be able to secure the border. I thank Congressman Goldman and my colleagues for introducing this commonsense legislation.”

To disrupt the trafficking of U.S.-sourced firearms into Mexico, the Disarming Cartels Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to:

  • Increase interagency collaboration to identify, target, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations responsible for exporting firearms and related munitions from the United States to Mexico.
  • Instruct Homeland Security Investigations within U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement to establish a mechanism for sharing aggregated information about interdictions of southbound firearms and U.S.-sourced firearms in Mexico with Federal partners.
  • Expand the collection and analysis of information concerning firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico to identify U.S.-based gun traffickers.
  • Enhance coordination with Mexican agencies to increase outbound inspections by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the southwest land border.
  • Establish performance measures for efforts to disrupt the smuggling of U.S.-sourced firearms to Mexico.
  • Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide annual reports on the Department’s actions to disrupt the smuggling of U.S.-sourced firearms and munition to Mexico.

Congressman Castro has led Congressional efforts to prevent the United States from exporting its gun violence crisis. He has sent several letters to the Commerce Department seeking answers on their lackluster oversight of assault weapons exports and failure to release data on its approvals of these exports. Earlier this year, he commissioned a federal probe from the Government Accountability Office into the consequences of illegal firearms trafficking from the United States to the Caribbean. Last year, he introduced the Americas Regional Monitoring of Arms Sales (ARMAS) Act, legislation that seeks to disrupt firearm trafficking from the United States to the Caribbean by implementing stronger transparency, accountability, and oversight mechanisms for U.S. small arms exports.