Page last updated at 22:17 GMT, Sunday, 12 April 2009 23:17 UK

Mexico says US fuels gun crime

By Jon Donnison
BBC News, Washington

Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan on CBS (still from interview)
Mr Sarukhan said cartels were buying from US border gun shops

Mexico's ambassador to the US has urged America to stop the flow of guns and cash that pass into his country, fuelling the country's drug wars.

Arturo Sarukhan said US money and weapons provided the drug cartels with the means to "corrupt, bribe and kill".

President Barack Obama is due to visit Mexico later this week.

More than 6,000 people died last year in Mexico in drug-related violence and Mexico believes 90% of the weapons used by drug cartels come from the US.

US gun lobby groups dispute the figure.

Assault weapon call

In an interview with CBS's Face The Nation programme, Mr Sarukhan said the lifting of a US ban on military-style assault weapons in 2004 had been a crucial factor.

US border guards in San Diego display guns seized on the Mexican border, 1 April
Mexico says the lifting of a US assault rifle ban in 2004 fuelled the gun trade

"There is a direct correlation between the expiration of the assault weapons ban and our seizures of assault weapons," he said.

"We cannot determine how Congress and the administration will move on this.

"What we will say is that... reinstating the ban... could have a profound impact on the number and the calibre of the weapons going down to Mexico."

But any move to reinstate that ban would be fiercely fought by gun lobby groups in the United States.

One in four Americans legally own some type of gun and gun ownership is deeply rooted in American culture.

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