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Mexico files second lawsuit against US arms dealers

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government on Monday filed another lawsuit against American companies it believes are responsible for the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico.

The first lawsuit, which was recently dismissed, was against American arms manufacturers. The second, filed Monday in Arizona, according to Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard, appears to target arms dealers.

“We are prosecuting them because there is clearly a pattern, we are claiming that it is clear that there is arms trafficking and it is known that these weapons are going to our country,” Ebrard said.

Ebrard promised last week that the new lawsuit would target gun shops or dealers in US border states that sell weapons to “straw” buyers who pass them on to smugglers, who then take the weapons to Mexico.

Ebrard said about 60% of the weapons seized in Mexico in recent years were said to have been sold in 10 US provinces, mostly along the border. Mexico has very strict restrictions on gun ownership, but violence in drug cartels has cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the country in recent years.

“We’re going to show that a lot of these outlets where they sell these products in these provinces that I mentioned are dealing with straw buyers and criminal charges should be brought,” Ebrard said during a speech before the Mexican Senate last week.

A recently passed US law defines buying straw as a crime and imposes sentences of up to 15 to 25 years if the offense is related to drug trafficking.

The announcement comes just days after a US federal judge dismissed Mexico’s first lawsuit against US arms manufacturers. Ebrard said Mexico would appeal that decision.

The judge ruled that Mexico’s claims do not outweigh the broad protections afforded to arms manufacturers by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005.

The law protects gun manufacturers from harm “as a result of the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm.

Mexico sued at least $10 billion in damages, but legal experts had seen the lawsuit as an opportunity.

According to the State Department, the Mexican government estimates that 70% of the weapons smuggled into Mexico come from the US. It said at least 17,000 murders in Mexico were linked to smuggled weapons in 2019 alone.

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