On Tuesday, February 24, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed a reform that would allow foreign customs and migration agents to carry firearms inside Mexico. The bill, already sent by the Mexican premier to the Senate, also includes a provision allowing foreign dignitaries to enter the country with their own armed security details.
The proposals — which would involve reforming federal firearms legislation — would create designated areas where foreign agents would be authorized to carry the same firearms that they use in their home countries.
The initiative set some limitations to the permits, however: only revolvers or semi-automatic pistols with a caliber less than .40 would be permitted by the Mexican National Defense Department. The bill also demands reciprocity from other countries, allowing Mexican agents to carry firearms in its neighbors’ national territory.
According to the text, the cooperation would speed up the inspection process of goods and people going through borders, but foreign agencies would continue to be prohibited from carrying out their activities on Mexico soil.
“Regarding migratory pre-inspection,” reads the bill, “foreign public servants participating in controls at international checkpoints would be allowed to carry guns.” Mexican legislation currently bans foreign agents or officials from carrying guns inside the country or taking part in raids to arrest criminals.
The main justification for the authorization to carry weapons lies in the need to guarantee foreign agents’ security against drug cartels and criminal gangs.
Violent episodes involving foreign officials have previously damaged US-Mexico tensions. In 2011, a Mexican drug cartel were blamed for the killing of a US migration agent in the northern Mexico. In the following year, two CIA officers were wounded after their car they were traveling was ambushed by a criminal group.
In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported US Marshals have previously entered Mexico disguised as Mexican Marines to take part in armed raids against suspected drug traffickers, raising questions regarding the US government’s role in ongoing counter-narcotics operations south of the US border. FBI and DEA agents also took part in the raids, though in smaller numbers and in a “supporting role,” according to the report.