The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that its Operation Without a Trace had helped seize more firearms headed out the U.S. Southwest border by the end of July than were halted throughout all of FY 2022.
The operation was a coordinated enforcement effort between DHS and federal partners, targeting southbound and outbound movement of firearms from the United States to transnational criminal organizations in Mexico.
“Investigations to break down criminal networks have benefited tremendously from increased interagency collaboration, both within DHS and with our federal partners,” Craig Larrabee, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio Special Agent in Charge, said. “Keeping weapons and ammunition out of the hands of criminals is vital to keeping communities safe on both sides of the border. Our investigations bring criminals to justice here in the United States and provide law enforcement partners in Mexico support as they work to dismantle dangerous cartel networks.”
Interdicting southbound firearms like this is meant to keep them out of the hands of criminal cartels which would use them in other illicit activities. Federal officials pointed to the production and trafficking of fentanyl in particular, a current, major federal focus. U.S. federal, state and local officials, as well as the Mexican government, have collaborated extensively in efforts to combat transnational criminal networks.
“Denying transnational criminal organizations firearms and currency is vital to degrading, disrupting, and dismantling their criminal networks,” said Eugene Crawford, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Director of Field Operations for Laredo. “Increased deployment of technology and the intelligence gathered by CBP interdiction operations is helping inform investigations so that we can get more of the criminal actors in these networks off our streets.”