Deadly Mexican cartels are arming up with military-grade weapons from America, smuggled in exchange for drugs.
Drugs have been heading north of the border for decades but the Mexican government is now facing a frightening spate of guns travelling in the other direction.
Devastating arsenals of AK-47s and M-16s are being built by the likes of the CJNG, Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels as they strengthen their terrifying grip on communities.
According to a new Mexican government study, at least 2.5 million illegal firearms were smuggled into Mexico over the past decade, News4SA reports.
The fatal cycle of illegal imports and exports continues to escalate.
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Richard Sanchez, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the McAllen district in the Rio Grande, said: "The weapons and the ammunition and guns we're seeing are traded for narcotics, these weapons will be transported into Mexico via the US and in the hopes of obtaining narcotics."
Mexico's tough gun laws in comparison to the US make it an ideal market for traffickers to exploit, Sanchez adds.
He said: "Mexico has very strict laws when it comes to purchasing weapons and to purchase weapons on the illicit market or for trade for contraband, allows the traffickers in Mexico to procure these weapons, without the necessary checks."
A staggering 70% of gun crime in Mexico is linked to weaponry from the US, the Mexican government says and more than 40% come from Texas alone.
But it is not just the volume of firearms being smuggled across the border which is causing such concern for authorities in Mexico, it is their power too.
Sanchez explained: "We've seen a dramatic increase in the types of firearms and the calibre of firearms today than what we saw ten years ago.
"For example, 10 years ago you may see a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol, and now it's not uncommon at all to see an assault rifle, assault rifle converted into an automatic assault rifle, grenades, grenade launchers, and these high calibre type rifles."
In an attempt to tackle the problem, Mexican officials have asked the Biden administration to help remove guns off its streets as part of the DEA's same crackdown on the drug trade.
"We at DEA continue to collaborate with our state, local, and federal counterparts to ensure that we're maintaining and keeping our community safe, trying to rid our communities of those responsible for bringing in the violence and the drugs," says Sanchez.
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