German Guns and Mexican Cartels

September 25, 2018 Crime , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

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Ricardo Swire



Between 2006 and 2009 German gun maker Heckler & Koch (H&K) was permitted to export 4,900 G36 assault rifles to Mexico. The deal mandated such firearms be made available to Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua or Mexico’s most volatile states. Four other states that included Guerrero were excluded from issued International Import Certificates. During a four and a half year period a tenacious underworld syndicate oversaw fifteen secret trips that moved 1,924 H&K rifles to Guerrero state in Mexico from Stuttgart, Germany.


In April 2010 Mexican intelligence officials formally communicated H&K’s violations of the German War Weapons Control Act, but prosecutors brought no charges. Evidence identified eight complicit H&K staff members who forged export documents to mask illegal arms trafficking to Guerrero state in Mexico. On September 26, 2014 rogue municipal police officers teamed up with the “Guerreros Unidos” (United Warriors) criminal organization and ambushed six young men from Iguala in south-western Mexico.


The officers carried restricted H&K firearms provided by the Guerreros Unidos via black market connections. Mexico’s government does not issue German weaponry to military or police staff. The rogue Iguala police also gave 43 detained Iguala trainee teachers to United Warriors gunmen. These detainees were never seen again. A national enforcement team confiscated 36 German made H&K G36 assault rifles, the Mayor of Iguala, his wife and the local Police Chief linked to the security breach.


Journals showed how a Guerreros Unidos logistics coordinator paid €50,000 monthly to each of the Iguala trio, for cooperation in the gang’s criminal escapades. Internal security officials detained 19 Iguala municipal police officers, after gunshot residue was found on their hands. 228 guns were removed from the Iguala Chief of Police’s governance, 97 rifles, including the 36 suspect H&K G36s, plus Italian and American made firearms. In arm deals the US State Department uses the Blue Lantern Program to conduct export end-user security checks on firearm shipments.


Mexican security force units possess incentive not to cooperate with US Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agents who request eTrace data on intercepted firearms. If officially provided American firearms are misused or found at Mexican crime scenes, any new weapon transfers would be withheld. Unique markings on American guns allow Mexican security forces overseers to identify firearms assigned to different state agencies. In the Iguala Mexico scenario similar 5.56mm NATO ammunition, discharged from the collection of multi-national assault rifles, created individual ballistic verification difficulties.


During 2016 H&K publicly declared the company would no longer supply non NATO countries such as Mexico and Colombia. The world’s fourth largest weapons manufacturer cited difficulties obtaining government approval. After H&K G36 sales to Mexico stopped the production of an indigenous FX-05 Xiuhcoat began. The local Dirección General de Industria Militar del Ejército made firearm copied the German H&K G36’s appearance and internal mechanism design.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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