A growing percentage of U.S. firearms sales are destined for Mexico — over two percent of total sales — and the illicit southbound trade in weapons is greater than previously assumed, according to a University of San Diego study released Monday.

The annual volume of 253,000 of weapons purchased for trafficking from 2010 to 2012 is nearly three times higher than the period from 1997 to 1999, according to the report.

Cross-border trade represented annual revenues of $127.2 million for the U.S. firearms industry during the period from 2010 to 2012, the report states.

Colby Goodman, an international arms expert and consultant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., said the study “by focusing on a new approach, gives a different lens and gives us a better idea of total trafficking volume… It’s really difficult to estimate the number of weapons being trafficked from the U.S. to Mexico because it’s all hidden.”

The study recommends a series of measures on both sides of the border, including the release of data showing gun sales tax revenues county by county “to help determine and approximate number of guns being sold in specific parts of the border region.”

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