According to an October 2, 2008 US Diplomatic Cable recently released by WikiLeaks (08STATE105491), at least 16 American made light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) are unaccounted for. The US government has acknowledged that at least one was recovered in Cd. Juárez, from the original 26 that went missing in Honduras.
The light anti-tank weapon, also known as the M72 LAW, is a portable one-shot 60 mm unguided tank killer adopted by the US military in 1963. The Mexican military is not officially known to field this weapon within its ranks. Although primarily a light tank killer, the LAW is capable of disabling light armored vehicles and penetrating defensive positions in buildings or other man-made objects.
The Diplomatic cable states that in July 9, 2008, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a report titled; “Honduras: Military Weapons Fuel Black Arms Market”. According to the DIA report, four LAWs were recovered in Mexico, three in Mexico City and one in Cd. Juárez in 2008. Another six have also been recovered in Columbia. The DIA report adds that “factory markings analysis of lot and serial numbers” indicate that the recovered weapons belonged to a lot of 50 LAWs transferred to the Honduran 2nd Infantry Battalion TESON training unit in 1992.
The disclosed diplomatic cable adds that an Honduran military investigation discovered that 26 of the fifty weapons could not be accounted for. Of the 26 missing weapons, only 10 have been recovered as of the date of the cable, leaving 16 unaccounted for.
More troubling is that at least two US produced M433 40-mm grenades have also been recovered in Mexico and Columbia according to sources within the DIA that were not named in the diplomatic cable. The M433 40mm Cartridge High-explosive dual purpose (HEDP) round is capable of penetrating at least two inches (5cm) of steel armor and has a casualty capability within a 400 foot (130m) radius. The cable does not specify how many of the grenades are unaccounted for from a stockpile that was transferred to Honduras in 1985. The DIA adds that only Honduras has been the recipient of the M433.
Unknown is how many of the 26 missing LAWs have been recovered since the 2008 cable and how many of those unrecovered remain in cartel hands. More importantly, how many of the M433 grenades are in possession of cartel sicarios and how many have found their way into Cd. Juárez?