A prominent U.S. newspaper reports that U.S.-made grenades shipped to "friendly regimes" in Central America during the Cold War era have become the newest weapons in the arsenal of Mexico's drug cartels.
The Washington Post says there were 72 grenade attacks in Mexico last year, including what the newspaper describes as "spectacular assaults" on police convoys and public officials, as well as attacks on brothels, a military barracks, a television station and a U.S. consulate.
The newspaper reports the grenades' psychological impact may be just as spectacular, intimidating the outgunned soldiers and police, and reminding everyday Mexicans that the country is "literally at war."
The grenades are being stolen from what the paper says are "dusty old armories."
The newspaper reports Mexican forces have seized more than 5,800 live grenades since 2007, representing just a small fraction of the cartels' inventory.
The Washington Post says 300,000 hand grenades were sent to Central America during the presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. That count does not include the grenades sent to the region from Asia or Soviet and Eastern European manufacturers.
One U.S. official described grenades as "a lazy man's killing weapon" because they do not require good aim. Grenades can be rolled to their targets.