This is according to a source in law enforcement, who said: "The weapons that are being provided to the Ukrainian armed forces have already been found in the possession of Mexican cartels and Hamas.”
They added that this is compromising the trust between Western nations and Kiev, noting: "Western countries have now increased anti-corruption controls related to weapons supplies."
Last year, reports emerged that Mexican cartels had been using Ukraine-sourced weapons, with a video claiming to show a Mexican cartel member with an American-made FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank missile launcher.
At the time, presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy tweeted: "...US military weapons that we sent to *Ukraine*, including Javelin anti-tank missiles & missile launchers, are ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels south of our border. This is an embarrassment..."
Some experts debunked those reports, and the company itself said the weapon in question was not a Javelin.
However, the new report from TASS is bringing these concerns back to the forefront. From the moment the U.S. and NATO allies agreed to supply weapons and ammunition to Ukraine when the Russian conflict broke out, concerns have been raised that they could end up in the wrong hands, and as more time passes, the likelihood grows that they could have made their way to drug cartels, criminals and terrorist groups around the world.
Some have suggested the new report is Russian propaganda, but it is worth noting that weapons ending up in the hands of Mexican cartels is a very real concern and something that has been happening with increasing frequency.
In fact, cases involving American-made weapons making their way to Mexican cartels have become so prevalent that the Mexican government has demanded that the U.S. launch an investigation.
The Mexican army reports encountering rocket launchers, grenades and belt-fed machine guns in possession of cartels that are not sold for civilian use in the U.S.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Alicia Barcena said: “The [Mexican] Defense Department has warned the United States about weapons entering Mexico that are for the exclusive use of the U.S. army. It is very urgent that an investigation into this be carried out.”
In June, they reported seizing hundreds of automatic machine guns and dozens of grenade and rocket launchers from drug cartels in recent years, which is creating a significant challenge for Mexico’s army. In some cases, the cartels have access to more damaging weapons than law enforcement.
These weapons could have ended up in the hands of cartels via any number of means, from U.S. weaponry use in Central America during 1980s conflicts to military-grade weapons that disappear from stocks in the U.S. and manufacturers selling arms on the black market.
The warning from Mexico highlighted the long-running problem of semiautomatic rifles that are legal for civilian use being smuggled across the border into Mexico, which only allows low-caliber firearms under very strict conditions. The country has even launched legal action against American gun shops and gun makers on the grounds that they have been contributing to cartel violence south of the border.
Last year, Military.com reported that a Russian-led organized crime group in Ukraine obtained weapons that had been shipped there for the war effort, including a machine gun and grenade launcher. They also cited cases where Ukraine’s security service caught a group of Ukrainian battalion members stealing 60 rifles and a thousand rounds of ammunition to sell on the black market.
Sources for this article include: