Click here to skip navigation
Embassy Seal US Department of State
 flag graphic

Click to go to our search page

Policy and Issues
Academic & Cultural Issues
Trade and Commerce
Environment and Health
U.S. - Mexico at a Glance
Borders and Law Enforcement
>Current Information
Migration Websites
Border Overview
News From Washington
Electronic Journals
Presidential Meetings


Project Gunrunner

ATF Fact Sheet

ATF is deploying its resources strategically on the Southwest Border to deny firearms, the “tools of the trade,” to criminal organizations in Mexico and along the border, and to combat firearms-related violence affecting communities on both sides of the border. In partnership with other U.S. agencies and with the Government of Mexico, ATF refined its Southwest Border strategy. ATF developed Project Gunrunner to stem the flow of firearms into Mexico and thereby deprive the narcotics cartels of weapons. The initiative seeks to focus ATF’s investigative, intelligence and training resources to suppress the firearms trafficking to Mexico and stem the firearms-related violence on both sides of the border.

Firearms tracing, in particular the expansion of the eTrace firearms tracing system, is a critical component of Project Gunrunner in Mexico. ATF recently deployed eTrace technology in U.S. consulates in Monterrey, Hermosillo and Guadalajara, with six additional deployments to the remaining U.S. consulates in Mexico scheduled by March 2008. ATF has conducted discussions with the government of Mexico regarding the decentralization of the firearms tracing process to deploy Spanish-language eTrace to other Mexico agencies.

In the past two years, ATF has seized thousands of firearms headed to Mexico. Trends indicate the firearms illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are becoming more powerful. ATF has analyzed firearms seizures in Mexico from FY 2005-07 and identified the following weapons most commonly used by drug traffickers:
· 9mm pistols;
· .38 Super pistols;
· 5.7mm pistols;
· .45-caliber pistols;
· AR-15 type rifles; and
· AK-47 type rifles.

- more -

Most of the firearms violence in Mexico is perpetrated by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) who are vying for control of drug trafficking routes to the United States and engaging in turf battles for disputed distribution territories. Hundreds of Mexican citizens and law enforcement personnel have become casualties of the firearms-related violence. DTOs operating in Mexico rely on firearms suppliers to enforce and maintain their illicit narcotics operations. Intelligence indicates these criminal organizations have tasked their money laundering, distribution and transportation infrastructures reaching into the United States to acquire firearms and ammunition. These Mexican DTO infrastructures have become the leading gun trafficking organizations operating in the southwest U.S.

ATF has dedicated approximately 100 special agents and 25 industry operations investigators to the SWB initiative over the past two years. ATF has recently assigned special agents to Las Cruces, N.M., and Yuma, Ariz. These assignments are part of a broad plan to increase the strategic coverage and disrupt the firearms trafficking corridors operating along the border.

Cases referred for prosecution under Project Gunrunner.
FY 2006 Cases w/Defendants – 122 Defendants referred for prosecution- 306
FY 2007 Cases w/Defendants – 187 Defendants referred for prosecution- 465

Special agents have been deployed to Monterrey to support the work of the attachés in the ATF Mexico Office and assist Mexican authorities in their fight against firearms related violence. Three additional ATF intelligence research specialists and one investigative analyst are planned for the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) to support Project Gunrunner, along with one intelligence research specialist in each of the four field divisions on the southwest border (Phoenix, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles).

Firearm tracing intelligence is critical because it allows ATF and its partners to identify trafficking corridors, patterns and schemes as well as traffickers and their accomplices. Firearms tracing helps identify firearms straw purchasers, the traffickers, trafficking networks and patterns, thus allowing law enforcement to target and dismantle the infrastructure supplying firearms to the DTOs in Mexico.

ATF conducts firearms seminars with federal firearms licensees, commonly referred to as licensed gun dealers, to educate the firearms industry on straw purchasers and gun trafficking. More than 3,700 industry members attended outreach events in SWB divisions in FY 2007.

back to top ^

— Press Release—

Garza: Our Continued Efforts Will Deny Firearms to Criminal Organizations and Reduce Gun Violence

Embassy of the United States