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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Contact: Public Affairs Division

ATF Releases International Firearms Trace Data for 2013

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released today several international firearms trace data reports for the top five reporting Caribbean nations, Canada, Mexico and for the first time several Central American countries. This trace data is gathered from ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC) which is the nation’s only crime gun tracing facility. The reports relate only to firearms recovered in these countries and traced by ATF. The results are based upon the trace requests that come in from each country. Firearm trace data provides valuable investigative leads and specific trend data for our international partners.

Firearms tracing provides information on the movement of a firearm from its first sale by a manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain in an attempt to identify the first retail purchaser. A firearms trace is typically conducted when a law enforcement agency recovers a firearm at a crime scene and needs to know the origin of that firearm in order to develop investigative leads. Trace information can link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation, identify potential traffickers, and detect in-state, interstate and international patterns in the sources and types of crime guns.

For calendar year 2013, ATF’s NTC traced 4,536 firearms recovered in the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Belize and Costa Rica. Of those firearms, the majority traced were pistols, followed by revolvers. During that same period of time, ATF’s NTC traced 15,083 firearms recovered in Mexico, 1,407 firearms recovered in Canada and 1,036 in the Caribbean. The data is organized by the calendar year in which the respective authorities report the firearm was recovered, not the year in which the trace was initiated.

ATF is dedicated to reducing firearms trafficking and firearms-related violent crime. For more information or to view the 2013 firearms trace data, please see our web site at