Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2008

ATF Provides Small Arms Trafficking Training for Mexican Officers

On Sept. 8-12, 2008, ATF held a small arms trafficking class for about 40 officers from agencies of the Mexican government, including the Procuraduria General de la Republica de Mexico (the PGR, the equivalent of the U.S. Office of the Attorney General), the Secretariat de Seguridad Publica (the federal police force, the uniformed and investigative branch of the PGR), the army and the navy.

See caption below.

ATF Explosives Training Specialist instructs a class in the identification of detonators.

The training is essential because it gives Mexican law enforcement and military personnel thorough background in the investigative tools and techniques at their disposal through ongoing cooperation and coordination with ATF. The small arms trafficking class provides the students with the technical knowledge to recognize indicators of firearms trafficking and to investigate and dismantle criminal associations and infrastructure that narcotics-trafficking cartels in Mexico use to obtain illegal guns. The class also teaches them how to identify and investigate bombings and other explosivesrelated criminal activities. ATF generally holds four or five small arms trafficking classes for Mexico per year.

The training took place at the National Center for Information, Analysis, and Planning to Fight Crime in Mexico City, Mexico. ATF’s International Training Branch coordinated the class in conjunction with the ATF Mexico Office and the Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Department of State in Mexico City.

The class encompassed numerous activities, including practical exercises in firearms identification, classification, handling, and safety. The class also covered the requirements and procedures to successfully trace firearms recovered in Mexico.

The students received a presentation on the dynamic of firearms trafficking. They learned how to identify firearms-trafficking schemes and to work with ATF to disrupt those schemes, mainly by pinpointing and eliminating the sources of the firearms. The students were presented with various case studies to acquaint them with the firearms-trafficking activities and methods that ATF most typically encounters in the United States when investigating cases related to the illegal diversion of firearms to Mexico for use by drug cartels and their enforcers.

The class included blocks of instruction on the identification and classification of explosives (including military and commercial explosives and improvised explosives devices) and the recognition of components in improvised explosive devices. The class also covered post-blast investigation, where the students were presented with explosives devices that had been detonated. They then worked as a team to piece together the debris left over after the detonation, determine the exact kind of explosives device used, describe precisely how the device worked and what parts were used to make it and give a presentation justifying their conclusions.

The classes can also continue to raise the level of awareness among Mexican law enforcement, military and legal officials about the unique and effective role that ATF can play in eliminating the flow of U.S.–sourced firearms into Mexico for use by violent drug cartels. They can also help to increase broad-based support in both countries for ATF’s Southwest Border Initiative to curb firearms trafficking and the violence associated with it.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at

See caption below.

ATF teaches students how to detect firearms trafficking patterns.