Drug Cartels Winning Mexican Arms Race

Traffickers using military-grade weapons to take on police
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2009 3:17 AM CDT
Federal police carry a box of weapons taken from suspected members of a gang operating on the outskirts of Mexico City.   (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
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(Newser) – Mexican police are finding themselves hopelessly outgunned by drug cartels with military-grade weaponry, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities say the arms race is escalating rapidly as the cartels, competing with each other as well as with security forces, acquire grenade launchers, anti-tank rockets and other heavy weaponry of the kind usually associated with basic infantry—not drug gangs.

Much of the weaponry is believed to come from Central America, where leftover munitions from past wars abound. "These are really weapons of war," said one local official. "We only know these devices from war movies." Police believe that recent large-scale thefts of industrial explosives are an ominous sign that the cartels are preparing for even bloodier attacks.