German gun manufacturer fined for selling illegal rifles to Mexico

A German court on Thursday fined arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch to pay 3.7 million euros (about 4.2 million dollars) and conditionally sentenced two of its former employees for illegally exporting thousands of rifles to Mexico.

Heckler & Koch assault rifles. Photo: Wikipedia
Heckler & Koch assault rifles. Photo: Wikipedia

One of the former employees was sentenced to 17 months of conditional prison and to 250 hours of social work. The other was sentenced to a fine of 80,000 euros and 22 months of conditional prison. Three other employees were acquitted.

Germany is one of the world's leading arms exporters along with the United States, Russia, China and France and all its sales need government authorization.

The prosecution established that between 2006 and 2009, a total of 15 shipments of military-type weapons ended in Mexico, violating the export license.

According to the German press, the Mexican Ministry of Defense, responsible for arms imports, approved the importation of 9,652 H & K rifles, of which 4,796 went to some of the most violent states in Mexico, such as Guerrero.

According to several organizations against the arms trade, several assault rifles of the G36 model were sent to the police of the city of Iguala, in Guerrero, the same where in September 2014, 43 students disappeared at the hands of corrupt police officers who are believed to have been murdered by drug traffickers, a case that sparked international condemnation.

Some of Heckler & Koch's weapons were used in 2014 in the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa.
Some of Heckler & Koch's weapons were used in 2014 in the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa.

The origin of the investigation was the denunciation of the German activist Juergen Graesslin, who in 2010 had already filed a criminal complaint against H & K for imports into Mexico.

According to Graesslin in those states, the police and drug traffickers "cooperate" and use G36 rifles.

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