MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Guns from the United States have been used to commit crimes approximately once every 31 minutes across Mexico, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean, a left-leaning U.S. policy group said on Friday.
The Washington-based Center for American Progress said that figure was based on analysis of U.S. government data that showed 50,133 guns recovered in criminal investigations across 15 countries between 2014 and 2016 originated in the United States.
The report, titled Beyond Our Borders, said weak U.S. laws were contributing to trafficking of firearms from the United States into countries suffering from violent gangs such as Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.
Mexico’s murder rate jumped to the highest in more than two decades of modern records last year, according to official government data issued last month.
Mexico’s legal market for guns is tightly restricted but the number of murders committed there with a gun rose from 15 percent in 1997 to roughly 66 percent in 2017, the Center for American Progress said in an analysis of that data.
Some 70 percent of 106,001 guns recovered in Mexico and submitted for tracing from 2011 to 2016 were originally bought in the United States, the report said, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mexico has asked the United States to do more to fight gun trafficking but experts have criticized officials on both sides of the border for a lack of cooperation and failing to stem the flow of guns south.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed in Mexico City on Thursday to speak with Mexican government and security officials and on Friday he was meeting with the foreign ministers of Mexico and Canada.
(This story corrects fourth paragraph to show Mexican homicide data was published in January, not February)
Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Bill Trott