An April 17 A-section article and this article referred to government statements that 90 percent of guns seized from narco-traffickers in Mexico are traced to the United States. U.S. officials say 90 percent of weapons submitted to the United States for tracing originate in this country.
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Obama Steps Up Efforts to Stop Gun, Drug Trafficking Across Mexican Border
However, Myers said, the tactic works only if specific assets owned by the cartels, such as property, are pinpointed.
"If there's no assets [identified], it's an important symbolic gesture, but it's kind of an empty threat," she said.
Dennis Lormel, former chief of the FBI's financial crimes and terrorist financing sections, and now an executive with the consulting firm Ipsa International, said the move creates a significant deterrent for U.S. companies, which will "really have to look over their shoulders" if they do business with a cartel.
In the administration's ongoing display of attention to border issues, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and deputy national security adviser John O. Brennan traveled yesterday to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Obama has committed to speeding up a three-year, $1.4 billion countertrafficking aid program for Mexico; announced plans last month to send 450 more federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border; and last week asked for $350 million as part of a supplemental war-funding bill to support border efforts.
Under U.S. prodding, Mexico is submitting more seized guns for tracing to determine where they were purchased. Also, the United States and Mexico have agreed to share a database of ballistics information that will help track weapons.
But Calderón has pressed for more action, specifically citing weaknesses in U.S. gun laws and enforcement.
His government sees a "direct correlation" between a surge in the seizures of U.S. guns in Mexico and the 2004 expiration of a U.S. ban on assault weapons, said Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the United States.
Sarukhan has urged the U.S. government to enforce laws against selling guns to individuals who intend to export them to Mexico, particularly military-style assault rifles and high-caliber weapons that have fueled drug-related violence.
He has also proposed that the Obama administration reinstitute a ban on importing assault weapons that was lifted by President George W. Bush in 2001, tighten restrictions on .50-caliber rifles and give "a more prominent role along the border" to law enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Customs and Border Protection.
"Most of the assault weapons are coming from the United States," Sarukhan told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "The key issue right now is, how can the United States help to shut down those guns and shut down that bulk cash that is providing the drug syndicates in Mexico with the wherewithal to corrupt, to bribe, to kill?"
Staff writer Karl Vick contributed to this report.