The Mexican Senate held hearings on Thursday over reports that agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed hundreds of U.S. purchased guns to enter Mexico. This apparently happened while agents were investigating gunrunning by cartels.
The Mexican Senate voted to summon U.S. Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán to testify on the issue, but no official date has been confirmed. The Senate also recommended that Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinoza request details from the U.S. State Department.
Arms trafficking has attracted increased attention from U.S. and Mexican authorities after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was gunned down last month on a northern Mexican highway with a firearm purchased in a town outside Fort Worth, Texas. Last week, while meeting with President Obama in Washington, President Calderón noted that there is a “great deal that has to be improved in terms of how to share information, how to trace the weapons.” In the past two years, Customs and Border Protection agents seized 386 guns at all border crossings on the 2,000-mile border. The Brookings Institution estimated in 2008 that 2,000 firearms were crossing daily.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin promised last April that at least $72.6 million would be allocated in fiscal year 2010 to hire 115 additional Customs officers and 144 new Border Patrol agents to bolster outbound operations. But U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that 90 percent of the weapons discovered at Mexican crime scenes were originally purchased in the United States.