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Report: German arms maker Heckler & Koch illegally exported to Mexico

By JC Finley
Report: German arms maker Heckler & Koch illegally exported to Mexico
German troops with G36 rifles during a training exercise. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense/SSgt. Maria J. Lorente.

COLOGNE, Germany, May 8 (UPI) -- An investigation into German arms maker Heckler and Koch has found the company was engaged in illegal weapons exports to Mexico.

According to the Customs Criminal Office in Cologne, the manufacturer "caused, promoted or at least authorized" the weapons transfers. Between 2003 and 2011, Heckler and Koch allegedly sent 4,767 HK G36 assault rifles without official authorization to the Mexican states of Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Jalisco.

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Jürgen Grässlin, an arms trade researcher, believes the weapons sales "might have been well-intentioned." In an article for the magazine ZivilCourage, Grässlin wrote that while the assault rifles were meant to equip "Mexican police units against the drug cartels -- has today become a disaster without parallel."

Protesters assembled in Stuttgart in April to express their frustration with the government's failure to investigate the alleged illegal arms sale.

The release of the customs report suggests a lawsuit may be brought in the coming months against five former Heckler and Koch executives allegedly involved in the illicit arms trade.

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