North of the border

Our view: From Mexico to Maryland, drug wars demand tighter gun sales

March 01, 2009

The narcotics trafficking, gun violence and dead bodies linked to northern Mexico's drug cartels are reason enough for U.S. lawmakers to get serious about overhauling weapons laws in this country. With federal agents tracing hundreds of weapons used by Mexican drug organizations to gun dealers in the U.S., this problem has become both a national security issue and a foreign policy concern.

The mayhem attributed to the drug cartels isn't confined to towns south of the border. Federal prosecutors in Maryland announced last week that 29 people had been indicted on narcotics charges for allegedly selling drugs supplied by the notorious Sinaloa Cartel based in northwest Mexico. The local indictments were part of a national criminal investigation of the drug cartel's influence in as many as 195 U.S. cities.

Otis Rich of Baltimore and Devon Marshall of Abingdon don't speak Spanish, but the cocaine they were selling in Baltimore and elsewhere was bought from Sinaloa suppliers. The extent of the cartel's operations rivals those of Colombia's ruthless drug lords.

The cross-border trafficking in guns has so helped drive the murderous wars in northern Mexico that U.S. homeland security officials are considering sending military units to the border. It's just too easy to buy AK-47s and other gangland-style weapons here, and that has to stop. Assault weapons should be outlawed, gun show sales curtailed and the practice of straw purchases more rigorously monitored. The victims of the Mexican drug lords aren't only on their side of the border.

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