With gun prices so high, surley Mexican criminals are looking elsehwere

STRATFOR has published an article entitled Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade. They made a very good point in saying that with semi-automatic rifles and ammunition prices in the United States so high, the large Mexican gangs have little incentive to shop over the boarder when importing from overseas is so much cheaper (even ignoring the fact that US civilian weapons are not fully-automatic, unlike overseas imports).

In fact, due to this surge in demand, it is downright difficult to locate many types of assault rifles and certain calibers of ammunition, though a lucky buyer might be able to find a basic stripped-down AR-15 for $850 to $1,100, or a semiautomatic AK-47 for $650 to $850. Of course, such a gun purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico will be sold to the cartels at a hefty premium above the purchase price.

By way of comparison, in places where weapons are abundant, such as Yemen, a surplus fully automatic assault rifle can be purchased for under $100 on the white arms market and for about the same price on the black arms market. This difference in price provides a powerful economic incentive to buy low elsewhere and sell high in Mexico, as does the inability to get certain classes of weapons such as RPGs and fragmentation grenades in the United States. Indeed, we have seen reports of international arms merchants from places like Israel and Belgium selling weapons to the cartels and bringing that ordnance into Mexico through routes other than over the U.S. border. Additionally, in South America, a number of arms smugglers, including Hezbollah and Russian organized-crime groups, have made a considerable amount of money supplying arms to groups in the region like the FARC.

I previously wrote that a significant proportion of the US-manufactured weapons captured in Mexico were in fact civilian hunting weapons, not semi-automatic, and legal to own and purchase in Mexico.

Thanks to Michael for sending me the article.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Sven Ortmann

    I wouldn’t expect them to buy arms in the first place

    They’re organized criminals and should be able to plunder a whole store at night.

    Semi-auto is probably even better than full auto. I have yet to see photos of Mexican criminals with enough magazines.

  • jdun1911

    You got to be a moron to think that Mexicans drug gangs will by overpriced firearms that are illegally shipped across the boarder. $1000 is a lot of money in Mexico. They are better off buying the tooling to produce their own weapons.

    A $1000 milling machine from China can produce all the weapons you like

  • jdun1911

    by = buy. Should proof read before hitting summit :(.

  • Freiheit

    jdun1911 – If they had the skills needed to use a $1000 mill to make something useful then they really wouldn’t need to be criminals to make a living.

  • Scott

    It is a sad state of affairs when we are forced to buy semi-auto only copies of AK’s for $500-1200 or pay mini fortunes for the real deal ones when you could get the real deal ones in Yemen for as low as $20!!!! It sucks when you are forced to be ripped off when you know a great deal is somewhere else but unobtainable.

  • Matt Groom

    I’ve seen some very well made firearms coming out of the black market in Mexico, so they’re are some people there who can use a Mill and a Lathe, asuming they haven’t migrated north. The 4.6L DOHC engine used in my Mercury Marauder as well as the ’97 Mustang Cobra was manufactured in Mexico (the rest of the car was assembled in Ottawa, Canada. Let’s hear it for the unions!).

    Machinists have to make a living, too, and that does not mean they will not be willing to make firearms if that’s the best way to pay their bills. A small machine shop has everything necessary to make any kind of firearm. They can make widgets by day, and guns by night, and nobody would be the wiser. Considering that most of Mexico’s police and government officials are on the cartel’s payrolls, what makes you think they wouldn’t be able to blatantly make firearms and sell them if they could sell them to the cartels at a profit?

    My argument has always been that if a manufactured item that is in high demand is outlawed, people will buy it from the lowest priced source. If it is cheaper to manufacture illicitly in country, then it will be built domestically. Look at the kind of “home made” guns they find in places like India, as shown in past posts on this blog. They’re making some nice stuff! A good machinist can make a copy of any mechanical device if the price is right.

    The reason the guns used in crime in Mexico are not from the US by and large is because it is cheaper to buy them from other countries where they are more mobile because civilian ownership is completely forbidden. In the US, we buy them and sit on them for decades, raising the prices as well as the demand. In other parts of the world, they buy them, use them, then sell them because they have to get rid of them! If it wasn’t cheaper this way, they would build them in Mexico, and the illicit firearms built there would be appearing HERE, not the other way around.

  • jdun1911

    It does not take much skills to produce a firearms. 10 years old kids are making firearms out of their home in third world countries.

    Invest in a $5,000 CNC machine. Put the pre-made instruction in the computer that you can find anywhere on the internet. Press start, go watch a movie. Come back and the part will be ready to assemble.

    Firearms are simple machine. The problem with most Americans is that the public school system does not teach basic mechanical skills. So what you have is a lot of people thinking it is hard to produce anything that require you to work with your hands.

    We spend more per kid in education then any country in the world. Yet morons are coming out of the system. African kids can speak and write at least two language and can do math. These kids used text books that was publish before WWII. So something is terrible wrong with our public schools.

  • Milo

    jdun1911, I could only wish running a CNC mill was that simple!

    A gunsmith trained machinist with a Bridgeport Mill, a Sherwood lathe, a welding rig, a heat treating cabinet,finishing tools and a good steady source of high quality steel can turn out single barrel shotguns easily, maybe one a day if he stayed busy.

    Barrels, especially rifled barrels, are not that easy to make nor is the equipment to produce them easy, cheap, or fast to acquire.

    Major firearm manufacturers are going to mold production techniques because the cost of machined from billet has become so expensive today it is becoming non cost effective in the first world.

    Purchasing military grade firearms and ammunition from third world sources is the only effective method of procuring weapons for an anarchistic expolit today and that is where Mexican gangs get most of the military weapons they now utilize.