Joseph Biden: US guns are killing too many people in Guerrero, Mexico

Joseph Biden
President of the United States

We as members of US and global gun violence prevention and human rights organizations write to express our deepest concern about the role of US guns in growing violence against journalists and against human rights and land defenders in Mexico, specifically in the state of Guerrero. We urge you to take swift and decisive actions to stop the cross-border trafficking and legal exports of guns that find their way to that state. 

An estimated 250,000 firearms are purchased annually in the US for trafficking in Mexico. Many of these guns, in addition to those exported through legal sales to the Mexican government for use by police, end up in states such as Guerrero where state forces collude with criminal organizations. Guerrero’s strategic geographical location for drug and human trafficking have made this territory the center of a deadly dispute between organized crime groups, local and state police, as well as the military, one of the main buyers of US guns in the hemisphere.   

The impacts of violence in the state are undeniable. The Jose María Morelos Human Rights Center, which has accompanied victims of forced displacement and violence in Guerrero since 2011, in a letter to the White House, documented more than 1,807 forced disappearances and more than 1,360 violent homicides occurred in the state of Guerrero in 2022 alone. According to them, most of these tragic acts happened “with the use of US guns, including [A]R-15, AK 45, M4, Mini-14, AKM, G3, as well as bazookas, tripode submachine guns, Barrett rifles, hand grenades and hand guns from multiple brands”.

Article 19 and multiple media outlets have documented growing violence against journalists in Guerrero, which has become the second most dangerous state in the country and one of the most dangerous in the world to practice journalism. 10% of the 157 killings of journalists in Mexico between 2020 and 2022 happened in the state of Guerrero, including the homicide of Fredid Roman, who was gunned down in August of that year, and the recent attacks and intimidation acts on journalists Arturo de Dios and Eduardo Yener de los Santos, in January and April this year.

This targeted form of violence, with guns from the US, has a direct impact on freedom of expression and the right to report in Guerrero. According to journalist Arturo the Dios, there are “zones of silence” where it is impossible to write about violence without risking getting killed. 

Activists in Guerrero are also the target of multiple forms of violence. The cases of land defenders Vicente Suástegui, disappeared in August 2021, and Arnulfo Cerón, disappeared in October 2019 and found dead in November of that same year, haven’t found justice. More recently, RFK Rockefeller awardee Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, located in Tlapa, Guerrero, denounced being the subject of illegal espionage. Teodomira Rosales, Director of the Jose María Morelos Human Rights Center in Chilpapa de Álvarez, Guerrero, was a victim herself of threats and attacks from members of organized crime groups and had to flee the state with other members of the team. 

The worldwide known case of the disappearance of 43 students from the teacher’s college of Ayotzinpa, Guerrero in 2014, is another case that shows the role of US guns in Guerrero. After the disappearance of the students, local, state police and military units continued to receive guns from the US through legal purchases without any end user control requirement from the US government.

Violence in Guerrero, perpetrated mostly with US guns, will continue as long as US guns continue to arrive through legal and illegal means to the state, despite the evidence of criminal collusion and impunity for violence by local and state police and the military, as in the case of Ayotzinapa. 

Many of us confirmed this in a recent delegation to Mexico, composed of human rights and gun violence prevention organizations, as we heard from the victims, journalists and human rights defenders about violence carried out by both criminal groups and military and police authorities. We witnessed the life threatening circumstances in which the population survives, with levels of gun violence considerably worse than in the United States. 

President Biden, action is required now and you can play a significant role in ending gun violence in Guerrero. Please consider the following actions:

  • Because of the role of US-sourced firearms in violence in Guerrero, grant asylum for all victims and survivors of violence from the state of Guerrero.
  • Press the Government of Mexico for effective human rights-centered public safety in Guerrero, including effective protection for journalists and human rights and land defenders, as part of the Bicentennial Agreement. 
  • Include the impacts of US-sourced guns in Mexico, including  high-violence regions like Guerrero, in your public and private statements about gun violence prevention. 
  • Direct the Departments of State and Commerce to stop all gun exports to police and military units in the state of Guerrero until substantial advances are made to end collusion between state forces and organized crime and to investigate and bring to justice serious human rights violations in the state . 
  • Direct federal agencies to actively enforce the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act  against the trafficking of guns destined for Mexico.  
  • Direct ATF to lead increased cross-border efforts to end gun trafficking to Mexico and produce accurate, timely and effective gun tracing data. 

We know and trust that you can and will take action before violence with US-sourced guns in Guerrero takes more innocent lives and expands to other regions in Mexico and the United States.

Name Nationality / Organization name
Daniel US Citizen
Evelyn Fraser Academic Coaching DC
Fabiola Campos  ÁGAPE ppr la libertad y el Respeto a la Vida 
Leonor Flores Aguilera Amores …Cadhac
Arturo Cervantes Trejo ANASEVI AC.
elizabeth lee Camada Peace Action Network
David Adams Center for Architectural& Design Research
Norma Mendieta Mendieta Centro de Atención a la Familia Migrante Indígena AC
Sara San Martín Romero  Centro de Estudios Ecumenicos A.C.
Ma Sandra Beatriz Mercado Sánchez  Colectivo De Pie Hasta Encontrarte Guanajuato 
Rebeca Zúniga-Hamlin Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC)
Raquel Pastor  Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia
José Ugalde Mejia  Desaparecidos justicia a c Querétaro 
Mercedes Lourdez González González  Desaparecidos justicia A C. Querétaro 
Michaelene Loughlin Emmaus Community of Christian Hope
Juan Aguirre  Estudiante 
Ethan Vesely-Flad Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)
Pedro Pérez Pineda  Firma 
Sharon R. Olberding Franciscan Peace Connection
José Luis Manzo Ramírez Frontera con Justicia AC [Casa del Migrante Saltillo]
Judith Beck  Global Exchange 
Don D Emmal Hunger programs
Elvira Martinez Monroy Independiente 
Má del Socorro romo franco  Independirente 
Brian Stefan-Szittai InterReligious Task Force on Central America
Marcia Halligan Kickapoo Peace Circle
Tania Del Moral Latin America Working Group
Tracy Rosenberg Media Alliance
Laura Carlsen MIRA Feminisms and Democracy
Dennis Kreiner mr
Claudia Velasquez Mujeres, Organización y Territorios MOOTS AC
Jarrett Cloud US Citizen
Carmen US Citizen
Lindsay Hope Kern US Citizen
Sherri Hodges  US Citizen
Lorraine  US Citizen
Jim Loveland US Citizen
B.C. Shelby US Citizen
Po Murray Newtown Action Alliance
Jerrilynne Titsworth  US Citizen
David Ramsay US Citizen
Calli Madrone US Citizen
Trevanne Foxton US Citizen
Klaus Steinbrecher US Citizen
Lana Henson  US Citizen
Joseph Dadgari  US Citizen
Reed Fenton  US Citizen
Joel Kay US Citizen
Tina Ann US Citizen
Charles Dineen US Citizen
Guadalupe Yanez US Citizen
George Flores US Citizen
Bryn Hammarstrom US Citizen
Eugenia Ahern US Citizen
Deborah Richardi US Citizen
irantzu US Citizen
Andrea US Citizen
Jean Lindgren US Citizen
Timothy Post US Citizen
judith williams sandoval US Citizen
Tony Segura US Citizen
Jerry Rivers North American Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE)
Daniel Perez Ongd AFRICANDO
Gregory Perkins PCUSA
cheryl kozanitas Peace Action of San Mateo County
LaVern Olberding Peace Resource Center-San Diego
Paul George Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Jonathan Peter Peterfam Trust
John Herbert Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
Programa Casa Refugiados AC
Catalina castillo castañeda  Red x la infancia ac 
Lana May US Citizen
Elisse De Sio US Citizen
Robin Terry  US Citizen
Kit US Citizen
Abbie Bernstein US Citizen
Marilyn Long US Citizen
Patricia Mensing Sisters of Saint Joseph
Jesús Salazar vidales Tesoros perdidos
Clementina Lorenzo flores Tesoros perdidos
Una promesa por cumplir 
Maria angelica Quevedo Bedolla Unidas por el dolor
Tranquilina Hernández Lagunas  Unión de familias Resilientes Buscando a sus corazones desaparecidos 
Alexis Maestre Saborit Union for the Justice Laura Marx
Maribel Ramos 
Patricia Vallejo
Enrique Pastor
Berenice Gonzalez
Irma Pous Fernandez
Jorge Pastor
Elena Marquina Barrera 
Silvia G Goytia
Irene Rivera Pérez
Patricia Rojo
Lucila Servitje 
Liliana Trueba 
Martha Cain
Sidney Ann Ramsden Scott
Catherine Crockett
Abigail Hossler 
cheryl kozanitas
Chris Nelson
Robert Beren
Judy bierbaum 
Ron MIttan
Paul Markillie
Ernst Rudolf Mecke
cynthia edwards
Roberta Frye
Dona LaSchiava
Leanne Friedman
Mark Karlin
Lisa Kellman
Esther Garvett 
Maure C Briggs
Catherine Lanzl
Bianca Benincasa 
Joseph Abela
Helen Gex Greer 
tony hintze
Kathy Bradley
susan tucker
Molly Lazarus
Connie Tate
michael lahey
Musa Eubanks
Óscar Revilla
Bruce Ross 
Patricia Blackwell-Marchant
Mark Nuckols
Jon Anderholm 
Roman LoBianco 
Fermin Morales 
Lynn Shoemaker
Glenn Hufnagel
Joan Yater
Luis Escala Rabadán
Mary Danhauer
Barbara Hoch
Melissa Fleming 
Marie Focella
Amy Henry
Susan Cotton
Carol Frechette
Larry Lewis
Wallace Schultz
Dorothy Lynn Brooks
Steve Overton
Robert Janusko
Mark Hayduke Grenard
Judy Butler
Penny Robinson
Justin Truong
Lorie Lucky
Tom Meisenhelder 
Cory Pinckard
Lourdes Best
Cindy Meyers 
Mike Shores
Mark Soenksen 
Mark Proa
Michele Spring-Moore
June Elliott
Stephanie C. Fox
Tony Clunies-Ross
Diambu Smith 
Janice Wilfing
mark levin
Rick Moffat
Joseph Reginald Cota
Lois Kaufman
Kelly Caffrey
Nancy Hiestand
Joan Sitomer
Jack Stansfield
Ronald Brown
Richard Johnson
Crystal Schaffer
Julie Skelton 
Dan Hubbard
Eric Nichandros
Virginia. Jastromb
Marian Scena
Don Hon
Michael Swanson 
Jeffrey Colledge
Maryann Smale
Mary Lebert
alice jena
Joseph De Feo
Stephanie Eastwood
Carolyn Riddle
joe smith
Zoe Harris
Hilde Kinable
Glenn Dansker
Ira Gerard
Cori Bishop
Michael Hogan
Manuel Leon Torres 
Morgan Paulus
Carola Barton
Lynn Biddle
LaVern Olberding
Jim Yarbrough
Brian Dolenz
Lorin Peters
Kenneth Crouse
Robert New
Shannon Markley
Tim Glover
Leah Hallow
Lynn Abbott
Monica Stuhlreyer
Julia Richards
A.L. Steiner
Susan Perry
Warren M. Gold
Scott V Grinthal
Steve Bloom