Mexico Sues U.S. Gunmakers, Says Trafficked Weapons Linked to 17,000 Homicides

U.S. gun manufacturers asked a Massachusetts court to drop a lawsuit the Mexican government filed against them for alleged negligence and illegal commercial practices causing their weapons to enter Mexico and encourage violence in the country.

The Mexican government filed the suit in August. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that in 2019, at least 17,000 homicides were linked to trafficked weapons. According to the Associated Press, the country's officials estimate that 70 percent of weapons trafficked to Mexico came from the U.S.

In the lawsuit, the government said that the companies not only knew that their practices were contributing to weapons trafficking in Mexico but were facilitating it. They demanded compensation and policy changes from the companies.

The suit was filed against large gunmakers including Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Smith & Wesson, Colt's Manufacturing, Glock Inc., and Sturm, Ruger & Co. The suit also includes Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells guns from most of those manufacturers to dealers around the country.

Gun manufacturer Beretta argued that the Mexican government has no proof connecting their sales in Massachusetts to the crimes mentioned in the suit. They also argued that the Massachusetts court does not have jurisdiction, as Beretta is based in Maryland and the harm described in the suit occurred in Mexico.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Beretta, gun
The Mexican government has sued U.S. gun manufacturers, including Beretta, for allowing their weapons to be trafficked into the country, leading to what they say is 17,000 shooting deaths. Above, Courtney Manwaring holds a Beretta ARX-160 semi-automatic gun at Action Target on June 17, 2016, in Springville, Utah. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

"Plaintiff is the government of Mexico. Beretta is a Maryland corporation with its corporate home, headquarters, and principal place of business in Maryland. And the harm for which Plaintiff seeks redress all occurred in Mexico," Beretta U.S.A Corp. wrote in a document filed with the court Monday.

"Plaintiff does not allege that the criminals in Mexico used, received, or purchased the firearms that Beretta sold in Massachusetts," the company also argued.

On Monday, Alejandro Celorio, a legal adviser in the ministry, said via Twitter that their legal team would analyze the manufacturers' responses. Mexico has until January 31 to file its own formal response.

"Today litigation is not won, nor lost," Celorio wrote.

The filing came on the same day Mexico's Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard told the United Nations Security Council that the U.N. must do more because efforts so far to control the trafficking of small arms was "insufficient."

Mexico currently holds the council's rotating presidency.

"The private actors must contribute with decisive actions of self-regulation and monitoring of their distribution chains to avoid the diversion and illicit trafficking of the guns they produce and sell, as well as assure that those that they sell under the law do not get into criminal hands," Ebrard said.