Mexico’s re-filed lawsuit accuses several U.S.-based firearms shops and dealers of tacitly allowing “straw purchasers” to acquire guns on behalf of powerful drug cartels.
The Mexican government has re-filed its lawsuit against the American firearms industry just days after its first attempt to hold gun companies accountable for violence south of the border failed in a federal court.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, Mexico’s first lawsuit specifically targeted large, United States-based firearm manufacturers.
However, the country’s re-filed complaint names as defendants an assortment of commercial weapons dealers, which Mexico claims have—either directly or indirectly–facilitated the trafficking of firearms to the country’s powerful drug cartels.
“We are suing them because clearly there is a pattern, we contend that it is obvious that there is weapons trafficking and that it is known that these guns are going to our country,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
In a statement, Ebrard said that the lawsuit seeks to hold firearm stores and dealers accountable for sales of so-called “straw” purchasers, who buy guns for ineligible third parties.
Mexico, adds ABC News, is requesting unspecified monetary damages; it has also asked the courts to issue an order requiring independent monitors at gun shops, who could help ensure that gun sales are complaint with U.S. federal law.
Alejandro Celorio Alcantara, legal adviser to the Mexican government’s Foreign Affairs Department, said that his office has chosen the “five worst stores” to name as defendants.
“They are not careful when they sell products, so they allow straw purchasers to buy guns,” he said. “We are saying they are negligent and facilitate straw purchasers to the point of being accomplices.”
Celorio Alcantara claimed that United States-led criminal investigations have traced weapons purchases back to the five stores named in the lawsuit.
Additionally, Celorio Alcantara said there is evidence to suggest that these gun dealers had not filed required information on some purchases.
“The main argument of our lawsuit is that these businesses are an organized part of a criminal enterprise, a mechanism, to facilitate criminals and cartels in Mexico being able to use their weapons,” Celorio Alcántara said.
Ebrard noted that an estimated 60% of the illegal firearms seized in Mexico in recent years are believed to have been first sold not only in the United States but in 10 individual counties—most of which lie along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We are going to show that many of these outlets where they sell these products in these counties I mentioned, are dealing with straw purchasers, and criminal charges have to be brought,” Ebrard said in an appearance before Mexico’s Senate.