Citation(s) from the literature library

Schroeder, Matt. 2013 ‘Analysing the Data.’ Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers; Chapter 12, pp. 285-286. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and the Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 2 July

Relevant contents

The datasets on illicit weapons used in this chapter consist of the following:

- Data on Mexico-bound weapons seized at the US border. The data, which was obtained under the United States Freedom of Information Act, reflects the seizure of 141 small arms and light weapons, as well as nearly 80,000 rounds of small-calibre ammunition reportedly bound for Mexico that were seized at the US ports of exit from January 2009 to July 2011.(7) Most of the records identify the type, model, calibre, destination country, and quantity of seized items. The data includes all types of 'seizures' - that is, instances when the US government takes physical possession of merchandise that is prohibited, restricted, undeclared, unreported, or smuggled (USCBP, 2004, pp. 13-14). While most of the seizures took place in response to actual or suspected substantive violations, not all of the items were necessarily bound for the drug cartels.

- Data on weapons seized in Mexico.The data covers the seizure of more than 5,200 small arms, light weapons, and rounds of light weapons ammunition as reported by the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), the department that oversees the Mexican Army and Air Force.(8) The seizures occurred between January 2009 and August 2012. Most of the weapons were found in arms caches, confiscated from detainees, or recovered after armed engagements with DTOs or other criminals. While the individuals and organizations from whom the weapons were seized are not always identified, contextual information in the source documents suggest that most of the weapons were recovered from DTOs and their affiliates.(9)

- Data on weapons seized in the Philippines. This dataset was compiled from online summaries of seizures published by the Philippine Information Agency, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine Army, Air Force, and the National Police. The summaries include data on approximately 1,000 small arms, light weapons, and rounds of light weapons ammunition, along with more than 100,000 rounds of small-calibre ammunition.

[DTO = Drug-trafficking Organization]


7) The data reflects seizures by officials from US Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the US Border Patrol. Author telephone interview with US Customs and Border Protection official, July 2012.

8) Summaries of caches seized by SEDENA are the only relatively comprehensive source of detailed, disaggregated data on weapons seized in Mexico. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to account for possible selection biases in the source data.

9) Mexican and US officials have stated that 'most guns trafficked into Mexico are facilitated by and support operations of Mexico DTOs' (USGAO, 2009, p. 22). See also US Embassy in Mexico (2010, p. 4). The US Government Accountability Office did note, however, that a 'small number' of firearms trafficked from the United States are for 'hunters, off-duty police officers, and citizens seeking personal protection' (USGAO, 2009, p. 23).

USCBP (United States Customs and Border Protection). 2004. Customs Administrative Enforcement Process: Fines, Penalties, Forfeitures and Liquidated Damages. February.

US Embassy in Mexico (Embassy of the United States in Mexico City, Mexico). 2010. 'Mexico Weapons Trafficking: The Blame Game.' Cable. 09 Mexico 2952. 2 July.

USGAO (United States Government Accountability Office). 2009. US Efforts to Combat Arms Trafficking to Mexico Face Planning and Coordination Challenges. GAO-09-709. Washington, DC: USGAO. June

ID: Q8488

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