Trump, Lopez Obrador agree to take action to freeze flow of weapons to Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s foreign minister said on Saturday that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had agreed to take swift action to stem the flow of illegal weapons from the United States into Mexico.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters in Dallas, Texas, U.S. October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Lopez Obrador told Trump on a phone call “I want to propose to you that both our countries use technology to close the border, to freeze the traffic of arms that is killing people in Mexico,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters.

“And Trump responded that he thought it was a good idea that this could be done using technology,” Ebrard said, adding that existing technology could be used for this objective.

Lopez Obrador told Trump “he was very concerned” that gang members were using .50 caliber, armor-piercing rifles during the breakout of violence in the northwestern city of Culiacan after Mexican authorities attempted to arrest Ovidio Guzman, one of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s dozen or so children.

There was no need to change laws in the United States in order to stop the illegal flow of weapons into Mexico, Ebrard assured.

The two leaders agreed that U.S. and Mexican officials would meet in the next few days to discuss options, and would announce actions to “freeze” illegal imports of weapons into Mexico through U.S. border crossings.

The discussion came in the wake of the bungled arrest attempt.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. authorities.

Cartel gunmen surrounded about 35 police and national guard on Thursday in the capital of Sinaloa state and made them free Ovidio Guzman. His brief detention had set off widespread gun battles and a jailbreak that stunned the country.

“If the order would have been given to continue with the operation in Culiacan we estimate that more than 200 people, mostly civilians, would have been killed,” said Ebrard, adding that so-called collateral damage was unacceptable to the Mexican government.

The chaos in Culiacan, a bastion of the elder Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel, has turned up pressure on Lopez Obrador, who took office in December promising to pacify a country weary of more than a decade of gang violence.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Matthew Lewis

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