Academic journal article Houston Journal of International Law

Fueling Violence along the Southwest Border: What More Can Be Done to Protect the Citizens of the United States and Mexico from Firearms Trafficking

Academic journal article Houston Journal of International Law

Fueling Violence along the Southwest Border: What More Can Be Done to Protect the Citizens of the United States and Mexico from Firearms Trafficking

Article excerpt

     A. Victim accounts
     B. Where does the blame fall?
     C. Factors that led to the U.S.-Mexico border
        becoming a war zone
     A. Why the policy method of incrementalism is the
        best approach for firearms trafficking laws
     B. How are Mexico and the United States currently
        responding to these issues?
     C. What more can be done?


Violence is increasing along the southwest border between Mexico and the United States. (1) One reason for the elevated violence is high levels of firearms trafficking combined with rival drug cartels and gangs competing for prime trade routes between our two countries. (2) This is a complex issue that not only involves firearms and narcotics, but also illegal immigration. (3) Any hope for a solution will require the cooperation and involvement of all levels of government on both sides of the border. (4) This Comment addresses the inadequacy of current bilateral measures and proposes solutions that will attack the problem from the perspective of stopping the flow of illegal firearms from the United States into Mexico.

Section II focuses on the current state of affairs in border towns in both countries and addresses the major factors that led to the increase in violence. Section III introduces and compares the theories of incrementalism and comprehensive rationality as they relate to legislative reform and addresses how both Mexico and the United States are responding to these issues. (5) More specifically, this section discusses recent attempts at cooperation by the governments of the two countries, responses to these issues by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and proposed U.S. legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Finally, Section III offers ideas at how the United States can improve its efforts at reducing firearms trafficking to Mexico. The last section proposes legislative reforms along with expanding the options that the ATF has at its disposal. The end result will be to cut firearms trafficking off at the source.


      [In Miguel Aleman, Mexico]--Hit men, [with] pistols tucked in
   their pants and walkie-talkies strapped to their belts, move freely
   in this city of sorghum farmers and cattle ranchers, dropping off
   their ostrich-skin boots with shoeshine boys in the city's plaza
   and stopping at local bars for a beer ... In this city of 35,000
   across from Roma, Texas, hit men are easily identified by their
   bulletproof pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

      The traffickers have lookouts at every entrance to the city and
   informants on bicycles looking for anyone suspicious, townspeople
   say. They will photograph newcomers, including reporters, and
   question strangers.

      The traffickers "speed through the street, drive against traffic
   and run red lights. But here, no one says anything to them," said a
   businessman who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. "Here,
   they are the law." (6)

Over 9,000 people have been killed in the drug wars along the southwest border of the U.S. and Mexico between 2007 and 2009, with at least 1,000 of the deaths occurring in 2009 alone. (7) No one in a Texas, Arizona, or California border town is safe from the widespread violence. (8) The increase in violence is a direct result of rival drug cartels competing for dominance of valuable smuggling routes into the United States. (9) Drug cartel hit men assassinate members of Mexico's elite state police force, kidnap large groups of people for ransom money, and rape and beat women at will. (10)

Illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border should not be news to anyone. (11) However, what is new along the border is the increasing violence on both sides and the flow of firearms into Mexico. …

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