14 US prosecutors support Mexico's lawsuit against gunsmiths

14 US prosecutors support Mexico’s lawsuit against gunsmiths

▲ Last June, elements of the Sedena seized an arsenal in Coahuila that presumably belonged to The Zetas.Darkroom Photo

Emir Olivares Alonso

Newspaper La Jornada
Monday, February 7, 2022, p. eleven

The United States arms industry obtains around 250 million dollars a year (more than 5 billion pesos) from profits related to the illicit traffic of its products to Mexico, said the legal consultant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) Alejandro Celorio.

The illegal passage of weapons, he added, has devastating consequences for the country, since most of it ends up in the power of organized crime groups.

In interview with the day To talk about the expectations in the civil lawsuit filed by the Mexican government before a federal court in Massachusetts against a group of American manufacturers – this after Mexico’s reply to the position of the defendants, presented last Monday – Celorio indicated that There is evidence to prove the negligence of gunsmiths in the promotion and marketing of their products.

He referred that Judge F. Dennis Saylor, who reviews the litigation, has in his hands turn off the key organized crime to obtain these products. It will decide based on the law, it cannot do so based on political considerations. We offered many elements, if you decide to stop the litigation and agree with the defendants, you will have to make a formulation that overcomes our arguments. I see it as difficult, there is still no need to sing victory.

Celorio made special mention of the support for Mexico, expressed through the figure of amicus curiae (friends of the court) from 14 attorneys general from various states, district attorneys from across the country, and several of America’s leading civic organizations dedicated to the prevention of gun violence.

In these documents, he stressed, arguments are presented that refer to the Law for the Protection of the Legal Trade in Arms (PLCAA, for its acronym in English) – federal and approved in 2005 – does not have extraterritorial effects and violates two state laws.

“The PLCAA is the biggest obstacle we have, but the amicus curiae are fundamental. In one, experts on the subject tell the judge that this law does not have extraterritorial effects and does not protect companies from what happens in Mexico. Based on that argument, the lawsuit cannot be dismissed.

Another premise is that stated by US prosecutors in the sense that the PLCAA itself contains certain exceptions to sue arms companies, such as when they violate state regulations. In their brief, the 14 prosecutors point out that there is a presumption that two local laws are violated.

One is the law in Massachusetts – and other states – that protects consumers, and the other is Connecticut’s law that prohibits misleading advertising. These companies advertise and promote military-type weapons, when in reality they should be selling weapons for recreational or collectible activities.Celorio pointed out.

“The prosecutors tell the judge: ‘Allowing the PLCAA to be dismissed, even though there are two exceptions for violations of state law, would put us in a situation of constitutional challenges.’ That’s a conversation that only Americans can have, but it gives us (Mexico’s position) enormous mileage.”

The Mexican government sued the companies in August 2021. The gunsmiths responded on November 22 requesting that the litigation be dismissed. Mexico replied to those arguments on January 31 and the defendants will have until February 28 to present their counter-reply. Subsequently, Judge Saylor will have to analyze the positions and dictate whether or not he accepts that the litigation proceed to an evidence presentation stage.

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