The ATF recently reported that the drug cartel is now using grenades to intimidate and kill. According to an Associate Press article, a fragmentation grenade from Mexico’s drug war was tossed into a south Texas bar. Fortunately, the grenade thrower failed to pull a second safety clasp and didn’t explode.
In the past, Mexican drug violence across the border was in the form of kidnappings and killings, but now they are using grenades to kill larger numbers of people indiscriminately. In Mexico, there have been countless grenade attacks against police and rivals. Three alleged drug hit men threw several grenades into Independence Day crowds, killing eight people and wounding 106 others in an unprecedented attack on civilians.
Grenades are now becoming the weapons of preference by drug hit men. Grenades are cheap and easy to find. Many are left over from Central America’s civil wars, sold on the black market to drug cartels or smuggled in. Others come from the region’s militaries. In April, Guatemala seized 563 grenades after a shootout with Mexican drug cartel members. These grenades came from Guatemalan military bases. The Mexican government says 1,600 grenades were seized in Mexico last year, a 170 percent increase from 594 in 2007. This year, 950 grenades have been recovered this year and evidence shows that grenades are making their way north.
ATF cautions that grenade attacks north of the border would come from rogue cartel members or homegrown gang thugs who assist cartels in home invasions and other crimes. They would most likely target people tied to the criminal world, rather than civilians. Cartel bosses probably wouldn’t approve of grenade attacks on US law enforcement because of the ramifications from the US.
Finally, ATF officials said the United States keeps tight controls over its own grenade inventories. So far they know of no grenades recovered in Mexico that were taken directly from American military supplies.