Skip to main content

Mexico's president to U.S.: 'No more weapons'

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
February 17, 2012 -- Updated 1806 GMT (0206 HKT)
Mexico President Felipe Calderon has sought the help of the United States to stop the brutal drug violence in his country.
Mexico President Felipe Calderon has sought the help of the United States to stop the brutal drug violence in his country.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Calderon says criminals have "unlimited access to high-powered weapons"
  • He stands before a new sign in Ciudad Juarez that says, "NO MORE WEAPONS"
  • The president says Mexico needs U.S. help to stop the violence

(CNN) -- Mexico's president called on U.S. officials to stop gun trafficking across the border Thursday, saying the move would be the best thing Americans could do to stop brutal drug violence.

"The criminals have become more and more vicious in their eagerness to spark fear and anxiety in society," President Felipe Calderon said. "One of the main factors that allows criminals to strengthen themselves is the unlimited access to high-powered weapons, which are sold freely, and also indiscriminately, in the United States of America."

Speaking in Ciudad Juarez, the border city across from El Paso, Texas, that has become Mexico's murder capital, Calderon said a dramatic increase in violence in Mexico was directly connected with the 2004 expiration of the U.S. assault weapons ban.

The message was familiar. The Mexican president has asked U.S. lawmakers to renew the ban on assault weapons before, most notably in a 2010 speech to the U.S. Congress.

But the backdrop Thursday was dramatically different. Calderon stood in front of a massive new sign, constructed with tons of decommissioned arms. "NO MORE WEAPONS," the sign said -- in English. Americans on the other side of the border are the intended audience, Calderon said.

"From here, from Ciudad Juarez, on the border of Mexico and the United States, we say, 'No more weapons. No more weapons to Mexico,'" he said.

Thursday's speech came as a U.S. Congressional inquiry continues into "Operation Fast and Furious," an operation run by U.S. federal agents. Authorities have said the operation was intended to track the flow of illegally purchased American guns to the Mexican cartels -- but in practice, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed so-called straw buyers to take weapons across the border without being intercepted.

Calderon praised U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to deal with the "very sensitive issue" of assault weapons, noting that officials in his administration had done more than previous leaders to investigate and block illegal weapons trafficking to Mexico.

"They have taken positive steps, but we all know that unfortunately it is not enough, and we cannot stop here," he said.

Out of 140,000 weapons Mexican authorities have seized since Calderon declared a crackdown on cartels at the beginning of his presidency, 84,000 were high-powered assault weapons, Calderon said.

More than 47,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, according to government statistics.

During his Thursday speech, Calderon looked toward the border and said he had a message for Americans.

"We need your help to stop this violence. We need you to reduce your consumption of drugs and to dramatically reduce the flow of money to criminal organizations in Mexico," he said. "But beyond the topic of drugs, the best way that you, the American people, can help reduce the violence in Mexico is through legislation that has already been in force in the United States, blocking the inhumane weapons trafficking into our country."

CNN's Rey Rodriguez, Eduardo Aragon and Ariel Crespo contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Suspected cartel chief Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino, aka X-20, was caught near Texas with thousands in cash, said Mexico's government.
Just days after drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was released from prison, the Mexican government now wants him locked up again.
Two men reveal how they became teen killers for a drug lord, spreading fear on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
January 20, 2012 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
There's the barrage of horror flick headlines every week, but the Mexican drug war, at its core, is about two numbers: 48,000 and 39 billion.
January 16, 2012 -- Updated 1704 GMT (0104 HKT)
The death toll of Mexico's drug war grabs global attention, but forced disappearances are also a troubling problem that Mexico faces.
January 17, 2012 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
Once dogged by a crime-ridden reputation, Mexico's capital has become a refuge. But in Mexico's drug war, are there any sanctuaries?
February 16, 2012 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Mexico has landed some hard punches against the drug cartels that have stirred violence in parts of the country -- at least on paper.
January 19, 2012 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
At least 30,000 children in Mexico are involved in some sort of organized crime, according to an alliance of civic and social groups.
Photographer Shaul Schwarz has been documenting the violence in Juarez through images since 2008.
January 25, 2012 -- Updated 0136 GMT (0936 HKT)
Drug cartels in Mexico have found a way around border security by using special pass holders as their unwitting drug mules, officials found.
January 19, 2012 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
Jorge Salcedo, an ex-member of the Cali drug cartel, writes about life inside the group: "Corruption is the oxygen that keeps organized crime alive."
January 19, 2012 -- Updated 0016 GMT (0816 HKT)
Opinion: Violence in Mexico has obscured one bright spot in Latin America's struggle with drug gangs: Colombia.
January 19, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Mexico's not the only country south of the U.S. border with a growing drug problem.
June 12, 2012 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)
In suburbs and small towns across the U.S., police are increasingly finding drugs, guns and money they can trace to Mexican cartels.
June 10, 2012 -- Updated 1644 GMT (0044 HKT)
A New Mexico town struggles for survival and redemption after its mayor, police chief and village trustee sold out, running guns to cartels.
Follow the latest news, features and analysis from a Mexico perspective and in Spanish at CNNMexico.com
ADVERTISEMENT