On March 2014, Andrew Tahmooresi, a former US military sergeant, crossed into Mexico from the United States with three different types of weapons. At the border Tahmooresi was arrested since bringing weapons into Mexico is illegal. He is currently waiting for trial in Mexico where he claims that he mistakenly crossed the border without the intention of smuggling weapons.
Congressmen in the United States have urged Secretary of State John Kerry to advocate for Tahmooresi’s release. Fox News has been featuring the case as they too have advocated for the recognition that his action was a mistake. Other new sources have covered the incident, and in doing so present a story about a former US soldier unfairly held by Mexican police that is meant to appeal to the public.
However, it is important to analyze the other side of the coin as well. Mexico has been suffering from homicides, kidnappings, and violent robberies in recent years. The rise of violence in Mexico has been fueled by many factors such as its impunity rates, drug markets and others. However, access to firearms from the United States has also played an important part (as stated by Washington’s Office on Latin America (WOLA)). The United States has done little about this problem and the only sign of its intervention is the controversial case of Fast & Furious which resulted in numerous weapons in the hands of criminal groups and in the murder of a US Federal Agent in Arizona. Therefore, it may be up to Mexico to unilaterally address this challenge, and the most obvious start is by monitoring its borders. It is, after all, Mexico’s sovereign responsibility to protect its citizens.
There are numerous straw purchasers that use their legal status to purchase a firearm for a third party who then carries it into Mexico. Moreover, the preferred method of transfer is through an "ant trail" whereby firearms are moved into Mexico in small numbers, often two, three or four weapons at a time, just as Tahmooresi brought. In some cases smugglers are caught, and in others they simply cross a porous border.
Tahmooresi isn’t the first person to claim their crossing was a mistake. Several individuals who have been stopped at the border with firearms have claimed to have done so by mistake. Such is the case of Jabin Bogan, a 27 year old truck driver who “mistakenly” brought some rounds into Ciudad Juarez during April 2012. Consequently, it is reasonable for the Mexican government and its citizens to question Tahmooresi’s story.
As of now, we can’t know for sure if Tahmooresi is either guilty or innocent. However, his detention seems to be a valid and legitimate action from the point of view of the Mexican government. The only thing that needs to be supervised is that he gets a fair trial, and that if he is found guilty he is punished appropriately. His story might be true, but his “not knowing” does not change the fact that a crime was committed. Given the significant number of weapons crossing into Mexico from the United States as reported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF), it is perfectly understandable for the Mexican government to enforce its laws to stop the illegal flow of weapons into its territory.