When Mexican authorities seize a cache of weapons from a drug-cartel hitman, their first call is long distance: to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Because, Portfolio reports, chances are any gun used in Mexico’s noxious drug war—which has left close to 10,000 dead since 2001—was made in the US and smuggled through the leaky border.
Guns and drugs have become so linked in the porous border region that barter is often preferable to laundering huge sums of cash. One ATF agent set the record straight on the bloody fray. “People think, ‘well, this is Mexico’s problem,’” he said, with an eye on pending legislation that could bring $1.4 billion of US funds to help stem the tide. “It’s obviously not.”