MEXICO CITY (AP) – The Mexican government on Wednesday sued U.S. arms manufacturers and distributors in U.S. federal court, arguing that their negligent and illegal business practices sparked massive bloodshed in Mexico.
The unusual lawsuit was filed in US federal court in Boston. Among those prosecuted are some of the biggest names in guns, including: Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc .; Barret Firearms Manufacturing, Inc .; Beretta USA Corp .; Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC and Glock Inc. Another defendant is Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells firearms from all of the manufacturers mentioned except one to dealers in the United States.
The Mexican government maintains that companies know their practices contribute to and facilitate the trafficking of firearms into Mexico. Mexico wants compensation for the devastation caused by guns in its country.
The Mexican government “is taking this action to end the massive damage caused by the defendants by actively facilitating the illegal trafficking of their weapons to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico,” the lawsuit said.
The government estimates that 70% of the arms sold in Mexico come from the United States, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. And in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides were linked to arms trafficking.
Alejandro Celorio, legal adviser to the ministry, told reporters on Wednesday that damage from smuggled firearms would amount to 1.7% to 2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product. The government will seek at least $ 10 billion in compensation, he said. Last year, Mexico’s GDP was over $ 1.2 trillion.
“We are not doing it to pressure the United States,” Celorio said. “We are doing it so that there are no deaths in Mexico.”
Ebrard said the lawsuit was another part of the government’s anti-gun efforts. “The priority is that we reduce homicides,” he said. “We are not looking to change US laws.”
The sale of firearms is strictly regulated in Mexico and controlled by the Ministry of Defense. But thousands of weapons are smuggled into Mexico by the country’s powerful drug cartels.
There were over 36,000 murders in Mexico last year, and the death toll has remained stubbornly high despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s promise to pacify the country. Mexico’s nationwide murder rate in 2020 remained unchanged at 29 per 100,000 population. For comparison, the homicide rate in the United States in 2019 was 5.8 per 100,000.
In August 2019, a gunman killed 23 people in a Walmart, including Mexican citizens. At the time, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the government would explore its legal options. The government said on Wednesday that recent U.S. court rulings contributed to its decision to take legal action.
He cited a decision in California allowing a lawsuit against Smith & Wesson to proceed, a lawsuit filed last week against Century Arms related to a 2019 shooting in Gilroy, Calif., And the $ 33 million settlement. dollars entered into by Remington with some of the families whose children were killed in the mass shooting at schools in Newtown, Connecticut.
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