Much is written about the illegal gun trade to Mexico – much less about the Mexican military’s sales to its own police and private security companies of weapons that are imported, mostly from the United States.

Between 2010 and October 2015, the most violent period in Mexican memory, the country’s military sold 255,712 non-military weapons of various kinds (pistols, rifles, shotguns, among others) to police agencies, private companies, and the public in general, including sport shooters, hunters, and for land protection and home).

During the same period, the military’s income from these sales – through the Directorate for Weapons and Munitions Trade of the General Office of Military Industry – reached 570 million pesos [about US$34 million]. Income from these sales to the Mexican military – known by its Spanish acronym as Sedena – more than doubled during the period, from 58 million pesos in 2010 to 127.6 million in 2014.

More than 98% of weapons sold – 254,081 - were imported by the Mexican military, according to the data obtained through a formal request. Only 4,761 were produced in Mexico.

Weapons sales to state police agencies show 156,419 arms acquired by local police, including 16,759 weapons to Mexico state and 10,846 to Michoacán (most of those in 2010). Some states bought few weapons during the period: Campeche purchased the least, only 698 guns, while Colima acquired 1,096 and Yucatán 1,217.

The above was dapted from Alonso Urrutia / American Friends Service Committee and published under a Creative Commons Licence.  Originally published in La Jornada , 2 February 2016.

Further information

In 2019, the Mexican president Lopez Obrador announced a new militarised police force, made up of 70,000 officers recruited from the military and other police forces, and that it would increase to 150,000. The new National Guard force would be responsible for policing Mexico's southern and northern borders in a bid to stem illegal immigration to the USA. According to Reuters, the "National Guard has been assembled fast, drawing on members of the armed forces and federal police, who have often been implicated in abuses during ongoing efforts to subdue the gang violence." The scale of the force drew criticism as the size of the proposed National Guard increased, and sparked fears that the move indicated the president would increase the militarisation of Mexico's police forces.