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GAO Report Faults U.S. Efforts to Combat Gun Smuggling

Audio

Aired 6/18/09

A U.S. government watchdog says this nation's efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico face multiple challenges. As KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson explains, the new study by the Government Accountability Office says problems include a lack of coordination between federal agencies and insufficient firearms laws.

A US government watchdog says this nation's efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico face multiple challenges. As KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson explains, the new study by the Government Accountability Office says problems include a lack of coordination between federal agencies and insufficient firearms laws.

The report found that until just a few weeks ago the U.S. relied on a hodgepodge of efforts by various agencies to crack down on gun smuggling to Mexico.

Jess Ford, who wrote the study, says that's one of the most striking findings. "Despite the fact that there was a lot of reports of increasing violence in Mexico and concerns about violence on the U.S. Mexican border."

The report faults the two federal agencies that combat gun smuggling for not sharing information, to the point that in one instance, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent accidentally conducted surveillance on an undercover Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent at a gun show.

The study also says restrictions on collecting and reporting information on firearms purchases hinder investigations.

Both U.S. and Mexican authorities say large proportion of the guns that fuel Mexican drug cartel violence are smuggled from the U.S.

U.S. officials have vowed to crack down.

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