American Rifleman - July 2011 - 43

"'I want you to go to Bob's Bait and Sporting Goods in Pima, Ariz., and
obtain for me a TEC-9. I understand Bob is lax with his federal paperwork.'"
Just how big are the cartels in terms of multinational
business? A July 7, 2010, Bloomberg Markets magazine
investigative report cited a deal cut between a single
U.S. bank and federal prosecutors involving the bank's
failure to verify illicit funds in three years' worth
of handing of $378.4 billion for Mexican exchange
houses. The article said it was the biggest violation of
federal anti-laundering statutes in history.
If unreported electronic transfers are huge, what
about cash crossing the border? Bloomberg Markets
quotes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
sources, "In the U.S., couriers take the cash from drug
sales to Mexico-as much as $29 billion a year ... That
would be about 319 tons of $100 bills."
As for their operations in the United States, the article said, "The cartels have built a network of dealers
in 231 U.S. cities from coast to coast, taking in about
$39 billion in sales annually."
As an example of the breadth of cartel operations, Bloomberg Markets described a Ciudad del
Carmen seizure of a single DC-9 cargo liner carrying a shipment of 178 suitcases filled with 5.7 tons of
pure cocaine. The profits from that shipment alone
could arm a sizable paramilitary force. One cartel is
reported to run a 22-airliner flotilla moving tons of
drugs worldwide.
This raises another key question: In terms of illegal
world commerce, who else uses surplus aircraft to
move highly profitable illegal cargo across the face of
the globe?

Of Drugs And Guns
If you guessed international arms smugglers, you'd
be on the money.
Ironically, the very same media outlets that keep
pushing the gun store-to-cartel idea have published stories about the supermen of the criminal arms trade-the
arms smuggling ultra-bosses who are as big as the drug
bosses. Mr. Drug Kingpin, meet Mr. Gun Kingpin.
While the BATFE leadership has been hell-bent on
proving that guns can be illegally bought at U.S. retailers and smuggled to Mexico by actually allowing it to
happen and "monitoring" a whole series of felonies all
the way to the border crossing, the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) has been prosecuting real gun
running. In fact, that agency bagged the gun smuggler's gun smuggler, a former Soviet officer known as
the "Merchant of Death."
The retired Soviet Air Force officer turned premier
international gun trafficker is named Viktor Bout. Bout
is widely credited with having moved literally millions of small arms, fueling genocidal conflicts on the

African continent and supplying huge numbers of fullautomatic AKs from former Soviet and satellite state
arsenals to anyone with the cash.
The DEA arrest of Bout was the subject of a Nov. 21,
2010, "60 Minutes" broadcast in which Michael Braun,
former operations chief for DEA, said the Tajikistan-born
world-class arms smuggler "has a unique selling point
... 'a fleet of cargo airplanes capable of transporting
weapons and military equipment, anywhere. With more
than 60 planes in all, it was his own private air force.'"
Braun told CBS, "These Russian aircraft were like
flying big dump trucks. He could move this stuff with
pinpoint accuracy to any desert, to any jungle, to any
remote place in the world."
Braun emphasized that Bout represents a special
threat to the United States because he is "arming very
powerful drug trafficking cartels around the globe."
In fact, in the DEA sting, which closed with his
arrest in Bangkok in 2007, Bout had agreed to sell
and deliver 5,000 full-automatic AKs, fragmentation
grenades and 100 anti-aircraft rockets, in addition to
heavier weapons, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terror organization
that has morphed itself into the largest producer of
cocaine in the world, and which has close ties to the
Mexican cartels. All of this for a paltry price tag of
$15 million. Does anybody suppose the multibilliondollar Mexican cartels can spare that kind of chump
change for arms?

A Gun Shop Connection?
Yet the administration and the media would have
you believe the cartels buy their guns from U.S. gun
shops, one background-check transaction at a time.
Compare the retail price for a semi-automatic
version of the AK-47 in the U.S. to the price on the
black market-about $55 per rifle. A Bout competitor
commenting on AKs told PBS "Frontline," "It's a cheap
weapon. Go to Lebanon and you can buy it everywhere. Go to Yemen, the world's biggest stock is in
Yemen ... maybe 10 to 12 million."
And still the theory is that somehow our Second
Amendment supplies guns to Mexico?
Mexico is a country with large swaths of territory
under absolute control of the cartels. Geographically,
it is perfect for a smuggling operation of any kind,
with 577 miles on its southern border with Guatemala
guarded by no more than 125 Mexican officers. It has
many thousands of square miles of isolated countryside. And it has 5,797 miles of unguarded coastline
along the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico.
continued on p. 81

July 2011 American Rifleman

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American Rifleman - July 2011

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