The Mexican government has sued a number of the most important US gun manufacturers, accusing them of fuelling bloodshed through reckless business practices.
The lawsuit alleges that the businesses knew they were contributing to illegal arms trafficking, which has been linked to several deaths.
Officials say Mexico is seeking the maximum amount as $10bn (£7.2bn) in compensation, though any amount would be decided by the court.
The companies haven’t yet commented.
They include Smith & Wesson and Barrett Firearms, among others. The BBC has contacted both companies for comment.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday within the US state of Massachusetts.
It says the Mexican government took the action “to put an end to the huge damage that the [companies]cause by actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico”.
The gun manufacturers “are aware of the very fact that their products are trafficked and utilized in illicit activities against the civilian population and authorities of Mexico”, the Foreign Ministry said during a document associated with the lawsuit, consistent with reports.
Mexico said the businesses had used “marketing strategies to market weapons that are ever more lethal, without mechanisms of security or traceability”.
The Mexican government estimates that some 70% of weapons trafficked to the country come from the US, consistent with the Associated Press press agency . In 2019 alone, quite 17,000 murders in Mexico were linked to trafficked weapons.
One official told reporters the damage caused by trafficked guns would be adequate to around 1.7% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, secretary of state Marcelo Ebrard said: “We are getting to win the trial and that we are getting to drastically reduce illicit arms trafficking to Mexico.”
Mexican officials stressed that the lawsuit wasn’t aimed toward the United States government. Mr. Ebrard said he believed President Joe Biden’s administration was willing to figure with Mexico to curb arms trafficking.
But experts have cast doubt on Mexico’s likelihood of success with the lawsuit.
Lorenzo Meyer, an emeritus professor at the school of Mexico, told the AFP press agency that US law “makes it almost impossible for gun manufacturers to be held responsible” for the illegal trade.