(Reuters) – Thirteen U.S. states and two countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on Monday backed a lawsuit filed by Mexico accusing several major U.S. arms manufacturers of facilitating the trade in drug cartels, leading to thousands of deaths.
The states and countries of Antigua and Barbuda and Belize filed separate letters urging a federal judge in Boston not to dismiss Mexico's $ 10 billion lawsuit against companies including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co.
The companies have Mexico has failed to establish that its damage can be attributed to them and that a US law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, protected arms manufacturers from lawsuits over the misuse of their products.
Mexico's lawyers in a statement on Monday opposed the law excludes only lawsuits over damages occurring in the United States and would not protect companies from allegations of arms trafficking to Mexican criminals.  9002] Democratic prosecutors from 13 states including Massachusetts, California and New York as well as the District of Columbia agreed, saying that even if that law was applied extraterritorially, the charter would not hinder Mexico's claims.
Representatives of the companies did not respond to requests for comment. . Other defendants include Beretta USA, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt & # 39 ;s Manufacturing Co. and Glock Inc.
In a lawsuit filed in August, Mexico claimed that companies were undermining its strict gun laws by designing, marketing, and distributing military assault weapons in a way they knew they would arm drug cartels, provide fuel for murder, extortion, and
Mexico's lawsuit states that over 500,000 weapons are sold annually from the United States to Mexico, of which more than 68% are manufactured by the manufacturers they sued.
Lawyers for Antigua and Barbuda and Belize argued that countries in their region had also been the victims of violent gun crime and that American gun manufacturers "should not be allowed to hold law-abiding citizens of an entire region of the world hostage."