Half of the more than 5,700 guns recovered in Central America last year came from foreign countries, according to a federal report published this week.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released international tracing data Wednesday for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean gathered through the agency’s National Tracing Center.
“Firearms tracing provides valuable investigative leads, specific trend data for ATF and its international partners, and information on the movement of a firearm from the manufacturer or importer through the distribution chain in an attempt to identify its first retail purchaser,” the agency said in a press release Wednesday.
According to ATF findings, federal authorities recovered 5,728 firearms from five Central American nations in 2016: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.
Agents traced the majority of these recovered guns to foreign countries — or no source at all.
Over 71 percent of the 2,182 guns recovered in Honduras came from non-U.S. manufacturers, according to the report. Likewise, 60 percent of the 152 guns found in Panama, 53 percent of the 623 guns from Honduras and 51 percent of the 2,718 the guns recovered in El Salvador were traced to foreign manufacturers.
Belize bucked the trend, with 60 percent of the mere 53 guns recovered there in 2016 tracing back to the United States, according to the report.
The agency said it is unable to determine whether the firearms were imported directly into Central America or smuggled into the reporting countries.
Analysis of the guns traced back to the United States shows less than a third came from retailers, according to the report. In El Salvador, for example, 50 percent of the 1,329 guns traced to American manufacturers were linked to foreign countries and another 40 percent weren’t traceable at all. About 30 percent of guns recovered in Honduras traced back to American retailers — the highest percentage for any of the five reporting countries.
Overall, Central American traces dropped 31 percent over 2015, according to the report.
The ATF traced more than 364,000 firearms recovered last year in the United States and 129 other countries. Traces have increased nearly 28 percent over the last six years, according to report findings, though remain flat compared to 2015.