INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Mexico Arms Trafficking: Information Sharing And

Published: Wed 28 Oct 2009 11:11 PM
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TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003108
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KCRM SNAR MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO ARMS TRAFFICKING: INFORMATION SHARING AND
BETTER INTERAGENCY COOPERATION THE KEY TO SUCCESS
1. (SBU) Summary. Disrupting the flow of weapons into and
throughout Mexico is the goal of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral
arms trafficking implementation working group GC Armas. Our
success will hinge on the joint collection of information on
confiscated weapons together with the ability to trace
weapons to their point of origin so that law enforcement
officials can build cases against individuals acting in
violation of U.S. or Mexican law. The biggest obstacle to our
joint efforts with the Mexicans is the inability of leading
law enforcement agencies here to work together.
The Right Mix of Players
2. (SBU) The U.S.-Mexican bilateral arms trafficking
implementation working group replaced several pre-existing
firearms groups. Known as GC Armas, the group was borne out
of the Cuernavaca Arms Trafficking Conference in March 2009.
Several U.S. agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco
and Firearms (ATF), Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and the Defense
Attach Office (DAO) are stakeholders in this effort together
with their counterparts from the Mexican including the
Mexican Federal Police (SSP), the Attorney General's Office
(PGR) and the Mexican Army (SEDENA). Together, both sides
are working to establish a set of guidelines and training
classes for collecting, tracing, and storing weapons ceased
in connection to the commission of organized crime, as well
as developing leads from intelligence derived from Mexican
and U.S. arms seizures in order to identify arms trafficking
networks and methods.
What Does Mexico Want?
3. (SBU) The GOM attaches much importance to the creation
of a database that stores information on all weapons ceased
in Mexico and provides case management data for
investigations and prosecutions. PGR CENAPI (Mexican
Attorney General investigative branch) already collects
information on confiscated weapons in its own database but
that information is not shared systematically with the rest
of the GOM or with the USG. Furthermore, the information
captured is not always sufficient for effective judicial case
development. Several GOM officials would like to develop a
tracking system for weapons similar to OASSIS, which
currently tracks people across the border. Investigators
could use tracking information to ascertain sources of
weapons (dealers or manufacturers), trafficking lanes (in and
throughout Mexico), and end user information (organized crime
data). U.S law enforcement experts suspect that Mexican
support for a database is based, in part, on the assumption
that it will help minimize the need for direct coordination
between Mexican counterparts, and convey the illusion of
cooperation.
What Can the U.S Provide?
4. (SBU) Tracing a confiscated weapon to its point of
origin is important in order to understand trafficking routes
and ascertain vendor, manufacturer, exporter, and/or importer
malfeasance. The USG has offered to the GOM, E-trace, a
weapons tracing system that tracks weapon sales to the last
legal transaction. Because E-trace is an information upon
demand system and not a true database, it only offers limited
information to its users. PGR's CENAPI, the only Mexican
agency that uses E-trace, can only view cases that either it
or ATF generates. As such, its officials are unable to
access information from other U.S. law enforcement
subscribers without the assistance of a U.S. third party.
5. (SBU) ATF is in the process of developing a Spanish
version of E-trace that it will make available to the GOM in
December 2009. The Spanish version of E-trace will remain a
request system that follows the same methodology as E-trace.
However, programmers have expanded the list of input fields
to seven, in large measure to satisfy the GOM's desire to
collect and track more data.
6. (SBU) Separately, ICE provided to the GOM an information
MEXICO 00003108 002 OF 002
sharing portal, in Spanish, called Armas Cruzadas. This
portal facilitates easy access to information on arms
trafficking, investigations, and seizures. Armas Cruzadas,
however, is not a U.S. weapons database that lends itself to
tracing confiscated weapons. The intent of Armas Cruzadas is
to create a virtual information exchange tool between the
U.S. and Mexico.
Senior Leader Involvement Spurs Working Level Action
7. (SBU) At the Border Enforcement Security Task Force
(BEST) conference in San Antonio, TX, August 11-13, the USG
and GOM signed a Letter of Intent (LOI), agreeing on the need
for a Declaration of Principles. This document, currently
under review by the GOM, outlines the kind of information on
confiscated weapons that legal authorities require in order
to prosecute criminals for arms trafficking in the U.S. and
Mexico. On August 23-26, ATF Director Ken Melson, DHS
Assistant Secretary John Morton, and DOJ Deputy Assistant
Attorney Bruce Schwartz participated in high level meetings
with GOM officials that made inroads towards the development
of protocols for uniform information requirements and
evidence sharing on seized firearms.
8. (SBU) Building on these senior level meetings, GC Armas
hosted two conferences to further flesh out protocols that
facilitate evidence sharing and foster greater understanding
among local, state and federal USG authorities and their GOM
counterparts. The first conference occurred September 22-26
in Phoenix, AZ. U.S. prosecutors and investigators were
invited to participate in the working group and reviewed
information requirements necessary for effective case
development in the U.S. The second meeting was held in
Tapachula, Chiapas, on Mexico's southern border with
Guatemala and brought together prosecutors and investigators
from Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador. The Tapachula
conference (report at septel) focused on the challenges posed
by illegal weapons' movements across Mexico's southern border
and through its southern region and should help promote a
consistent approach and a cohesive strategy on attacking the
challenges posed by trafficking of firearms into Mexico.
9. (SBU) Comment. USG efforts to develop a more holistic
approach when it comes to crime scene weapons forensics and
accountability will depend in large part on close
inter-agency collaboration both within Mexico and among the
countries in the region which are affected. GOM support for
a comprehensive database is built on the pretext that it will
improve SSP and PGR cooperation, without requiring either
agency to overcome the differences that are undermining
current efforts to respond to the problem of arms
trafficking. We will continue to emphasize a task force
approach that stresses cooperation as well as the use of
databases as the best way forward. End Comment.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
FEELEY
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