Drug Cartels Love Houston Gun Shops

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Bill Carter
When Mexican drug cartels need weapons, they turn to gun shops in Texas more than any other state in the U.S. An investigation by The Washington Post determined the top 12 U.S. dealers of guns traced to Mexico in the past two years, of which eight were in Texas, three in Arizona and one in California.
Two of the top 12 are owned by Bill Carter, who operates four gun shops in Houston. More than 115 guns from Carter’s stores have been confiscated by police and the military in Mexico over the last two years.
One reason drug cartels like to shop in Houston is that the city has 300 gun retailers and this allows buyers to change shops regularly without attracting suspicion.
The National Rifle Association downplays the connection between U.S. gun stores and drug cartel violence, but officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have no doubts.
The ATF has complained about loopholes in the system of regulated gun sales. Federal law requires gun dealers to report to the ATF any time they sell two or more handguns to the same person within five business days. However, “long guns,” including shotguns and AK-47s, are not covered by the requirement.
“If you're a gun dealer and you see a 21- or 22-year-old young lady walk in and plop down $15,000 in cash to buy 20 AK-47s, you might want to ask yourself what she needs them for,” Bill Newell, the ATF special agent in charge in Phoenix, told The Washington Post. “If she says, ‘Christmas presents,’ technically the dealer doesn't have to ask for more.”
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
As Mexico Drug Violence Runs Rampant, U.S. Guns Tied to Crime South of Border (by James V. Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post)


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