File No. 283/75–78.

The Secretary of State to the Mexican Ambassador.

No. 36.]

Excellency: Referring to the department’s note No. 35, of the 7th instant, I have the honor to inclose herewith for your information an extract from a letter, dated the 26th ultimo, from the Acting [Page 851] Attorney-General, and a copy of its inclosures and an extract from another,a showing the result of an investigation that has been made by direction of the Attorney-General of the alleged smuggling of firearms and ammunition into Mexico from Arizona, for the use of the Yaqui Indians.

At the same time the Acting Attorney-General sent to this department a copy of a letter addressed to an agent of the Department of Justice by an American citizen long resident in Mexico, in which the writer expresses his opinion regarding the agencies employed in Mexico to prevent firearms and ammunition from reaching the Yaquis. An extract from that letter is herewith inclosed; but the name of the writer is withheld, as the letter was written in confidence to the agent above mentioned of the Department of Justice.

Accept, etc.,

Elihu Root.
[Inclosure 1—Extract.]

The Acting Attorney-General to the Secretary of State.

Sir: Referring again to your letter of March 20, in reference to the resumption of smuggling of arms and ammunition from Arizona into Mexico for the use of the Yaqui Indians, I have the honor to advise that I have received a report, dated the 12th instant, from the United States marshal for the Territory of Arizona, giving the result of his investigation of this matter, which report I inclose herein.

It appears from the report of the marshal that, so far as he can ascertain, there is no sale of arms and ammunition being made in Arizona to the Yaqui Indians, and hence no ground for the prosecution under the territorial laws of Arizona forbidding the sale of firearms to the Indians; also that there is a good deal of transmission of arms and ammunition into Mexico, which, however, is often done under permit from the Mexican Government, and probably also some considerable smuggling of arms and ammunition across the border through sparsely settled regions, where prevention would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, and that in one case, at least, where the marshal recently obtained knowledge that the ammunition had been smuggled across the line, his effort to advise the colonel of the Mexican rural guard in time to seize the goods was defeated by the colonel’s failure to come for an interview at the place designated.

On the whole there does not appear anything whatever in the nature of fitting out of a hostile expedition in this country against Mexico, and nothing in the sporadic smuggling of arms across the border which is a violation of the neutrality laws of this country or which would justify the arrest or punishment of the smugglers in this country; but the remedy would seem to be within the hands of the Mexican authorities in the vigilant prosecution of the offenders on the Mexican side.

I have directed the marshal to continue his investigations of this matter and to report to me from time to time, especially if he can discover any evidence of sales of arms being made to the Yaqui Indians themselves, and have also directed, in the event he learns of any cases of smuggling, to immediately advise the Mexican authorities, in order that they may take the proper steps on the Mexican side. While desirous in every proper way of showing our friendliness to the Mexican Government, I do not see that the facts ascertained justify any further action at the present time.


H. M. Hoyt.
  1. Not printed.