By Marisa Treviño
Living in Texas, the news that someone local has been caught gun trafficking in assault rifles for Mexican cartels is nothing new. In the past two years, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents have investigated 90 cases of gun-running in North Texas involving 2,500 weapons in the past two years alone.
The reason is simple, aside from the lax gun laws in the Lone Star State like:
•No waiting period to purchase a firearm.
•No state registration of firearms.
•No restrictions on “assault weapons” such as semi-auto AR15, FAL, G3 / HK91 rifles.
Cartels know that these are tough economic times and, regardless of which side of the border it is, people will do stupid things for money. That’s why the case of Mary Jane Esparza is so sad and so indicative of things to come.
Mary Jane Esparza, a Fort Worth-area resident, is a beautician and a single mom to three children. Last month, she was arrested for recruiting a gun buyer to buy some assault weapons for her, which she was going to smuggle to the Zetas drug cartel.
Mary Jane is no saint. She’s been in prison before — once for burglary and another for helping undocumented immigrants into the country. But, according to her mother, Mary Jane was trying to get her act together to provide for her kids. Yet, the prospect of making fast money was too hard to ignore.
Esparza’s mother, Rosalinda Cuellar, told KXAS television station of Dallas-Fort Worth that her daughter, a beautician, is a good person and a good mom who struggled to support her three children — ages 10, 11 and 16.
“I think it’s all about the money,” she said. “It’s all about easy money.”
Mary Jane isn’t alone. ATF agents say they have seen women used before by cartels to help them smuggle guns into Mexico. What happens to these women doesn’t matter to the cartels. It’s a different story for the destroyed families left behind.
While the argument can certainly be made that Mary Jane knew what she was doing and got what she deserved, one other argument can be made too: If Texas had stricter gun laws then Mary Jane, and others seduced by easy money cartels offer during these hard economic times, wouldn’t be able to reach the point where they face years in a federal prison — away from their children and families.
There’s no excuse or justification for what Mary Jane did but there’s also no excuse for gun laws being so lax in a state that shares a border with a country experiencing a raging war supplied with weapons from young mothers trying to make ends meet any way they can.
(Editor’s note: This aticle was written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the US media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.)