Mexico to file new lawsuits against US for illegal arms trafficking

Mexico to file new lawsuits against US for illegal arms trafficking

KINGSTON, Jamaica,  May 20 2022 - Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard says that his government will again be filing another lawsuit against US gun manufacturers, to try to stop the flow of arms from the United States to that country. 

In 2021, Mexico sued several major U.S.-based gun manufacturers alleging that lax controls contribute to the illegal flow of weapons over the border.

The unusual suit — filed in U.S. federal court in Boston — sought unspecified financial compensation from the companies but does not target the U.S. government.A Mexican soldier holds up a gun next to other weapons seized from alleged drug traffickers or handed in by residents before they are destroyed at a military zone in Mexico City, Mexico. [Henry Romero/Reuters]A Mexican soldier holds up a gun next to other weapons seized from alleged drug traffickers or handed in by residents before they are destroyed at a military zone in Mexico City, Mexico. [Henry Romero/Reuters]

The Mexican Foreign Ministry reported on its website on Thursday, that his government has already filed a complaint in this regard and are preparing others.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Ebrard on Wednesday took part in a telephone conversation with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and US Adviser for the Summit of the Americas, Senator Cristopher Dodd.

The statement indicates that these new lawsuits would be added to the one filed by Mexico in a Massachusetts court against 11 arms manufacturing companies in the United States in August 2021, which it accuses of negligent trade that has killed thousands of people in this country.

Ebrard also spoke about the most recent shooting in the city of Buffalo, New York, attributed to a white supremacist, who shot civilians for ideological reasons.

After comparing it to the massacre in El Paso, Texas, in 2019, in which six Mexicans were killed and another nine injured, the foreign minister insisted that white supremacism in the United States is one of Mexico’s main concerns within the bilateral relationship.

This whole situation, he said, is closely related to the observations made by Mexico in its claims to the United States and arms dealers, in the sense that there is no logic in the sales, hence the Mexican government describes this situation as of corporate irresponsibility.

The Mexican government estimates nearly 70% of guns trafficked into the country come from the United States. A patchwork of weak gun laws in the US, where gun trafficking is not a federal crime, affects Mexico.

Mexican authorities argue that American-made weapons have fueled an explosion in homicides in this nation over the past decade. Around 2.5 million illicit American guns have poured across the border during that period, according to a Mexican government study released last year. Legal gun sales in Mexico are tightly restricted.

“If we don’t file a suit like this and win it, they’re never going to understand, they’re going to continue doing the same thing and we will continue having deaths every day in our country,” Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said at a news conference.

Security experts in Mexico sees the lawsuit as an attempt to raise the profile of gun-trafficking issues but one unlikely to lead to a legal victory as  legistation that took effect in 2005 shields gun manufacturers from most civil liability claims.

The suit names companies including Smith & Wesson Brands, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Beretta USA, Glock and Colt’s Manufacturing Co.

In addition to financial damages — which Mexican officials estimated could run to $10 billion if the legal action is successful — the suit also seeks tighter controls on sales and better security features on weapons.

In a recent Editorial the Jamaica Gleaner urged Jamaica among other CARICOM States to follow Mexico's example in filing a case against US gun manufacturers.

According to the Gleaner's Editorial, "with the benefit of Mexico’s example, Caribbean countries, which collectively face an epidemic of criminal violence, can find other creative ways to test the accountability of firearm manufacturers."

The Gleaner pointed out that :"Jamaica has more at stake than most. With nearly 50 murders per 100,000 population, the island has the hemisphere’s highest homicide rates.

And of the more than 1,300 murders committed here annually, over 70 per cent are with the use of illegal guns, of which more than 2,000 come from the United States each year.

The US has not been aggressive enough, lackadaisical even, in preventing the outflow of weapons. Neither, we believe, have the manufacturers been sufficiently engaged in initiatives to halt the illegal trade. Jamaica should, therefore, elicit CARICOM’s support to, like Mexico, mount a class action suit against companies in US courts.

Separately, regional states should sue the firms in domestic courts. If legislation does not exist that demands specific behaviour and obligations from gun dealers and manufacturers, these can be passed. Timing, with respect to such a move, is propitious for Jamaica, given that it is now in the process of amending its firearms law.

Additionally, Jamaica and other CARICOM members that subscribe to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights should test the possibility of bringing actions against the United States for aiding and abetting the violation of the human rights of their citizens (the right to life) by facilitating the easy flow of guns to people whose murderous intent are, or ought to be, well known."

Three weeks ago, Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, offered to partner with the government of Jamaica to stem the flow of guns and drugs that continues to create mayhem both in the city of New York and in Jamaica.

He told Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a function to celebrate Jamaica60-anniversary,“As Mayor of the Great City of New York which is home to almost a million Jamaicans, I am concerned about the flow of guns and ammunition as well as drugs from New York City to Jamaica and the impact that it is having on the country as it relates to loss of life."

 Prime Minister Andrew Holness and New York City Mayor Eric Adams exchange thoughts at the Sunday May 1, launch of Jamaica 60 Independence Anniversary Celebrations in New York. Next to the PM, Industry and Commerce Minister Aubyn Hill is engaged in the proceedings| Derrick Scott Photo Prime Minister Andrew Holness and New York City Mayor Eric Adams exchange thoughts at the Sunday May 1, launch of Jamaica 60 Independence Anniversary Celebrations in New York. Next to the PM, Industry and Commerce Minister Aubyn Hill is engaged in the proceedings| Derrick Scott Photo

"Some of the guns that are causing deaths in Jamaica, are the same that are manufactured here in the United States and are shipped to Jamaica and the region which are also causing the same deaths in my city."

There is yet to be a public response from the Government of Jamaica to the overture by the New York Mayor.

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