Phil Jordan, a former CIA operative, told the El Paso Times that the Zetas drug organization might be planning to disrupt Mexico's 2012 elections or use the weapons to fight other cartels.
Jordan, who served as director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's El Paso Intelligence Center in 1995, said the Zetas have shipped large amounts of weapons purchased in the Dallas area through El Paso.
Robert "Tosh" Plumlee, a former CIA contract pilot, told the Times he supported Jordan's allegations, adding that the Zetas have reportedly bought property in the Columbus, N.M., border region to stash weapons and other contraband.
"From the intel, it appears that a company was set up in Mexico to purchase weapons through the U.S. Direct Commercial Sales Program, and that the company may have had a direct link to the Zetas."
Last year the direct sales program was used to provide Mexico with $416.5 million worth of weapons and equipment, U.S. statistics indicate.
A spokeswoman for the El Paso DEA office said the agency does not have any information about the Zetas operating in the border region.