Heckler and Koch, the famous arms manufacturer from the German state of Baden-Württemberg, has been having a rough patch lately. As Bloomberg.com reported last year, the company has been having a rocky time financially. Then the Bundeswehr announced that it was ditching H&K’s G36 rifle (hitherto its main battle rifle) due to accuracy issues in combat situations that were traced back to flaws in the gun’s design . . .
Alas, more trouble is brewing for the corporate leadership in Oberdorf am Neckar. Deutsche Welle reports:
Heckler & Koch may face a heavy fine for sending thousands of G36 rifles to Mexico….
[The company] delivered a total of 9,472 G36 assault rifles to Mexico between 2003 and 2011. The company has been suspected of illegally supplying arms to crisis regions on several occasions.
Exports of the rifle…are currently permitted across most of Mexico with the exception of the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Jalisco. Export restrictions were implemented there due to suspected police corruption.
A…report from the Customs Criminal Office (ZKA) in Cologne alleges…that Heckler & Koch delivered some 4,767 G36 guns to the prohibited states.
In the town of Iguala in Guerrero, where 43 students were last year abducted by the police and later allegedly assassinated by gang members, 36 of the…rifles were discovered.
The ZKA reportedly concluded that Heckler & Koch was responsible for “bringing about, encouraging, or at least approving” the illegal exports.
The criminal office therefore recommended that five former officers and employees of the company should be indicted on grounds of “offenses” against war weapons control and the foreign trade law. The ZKA also urged for Heckler & Koch to be stripped of its 3 million euros of illegal profits made from the exports.
You have to hand it to the Bundesrepublik: at least when they say exporting arms to (parts of) Mexico is illegal, they actually mean it. Not like some governments I could mention.
Between the official corruption in the Mexican state of Guerrero, and the fact that the government of Mexico doesn’t even bother pretending that its
subjects citizens have rights, the export ban makes sense. The crassly left-wing New Internationalist points out:
The authorities in Guerrero are routinely linked to corruption and human rights abuses. In 2011, photographs and witness testimonies emerged, which indicated the police had turned H&K rifles on a student protest, killing 2 innocent people in the process.
The abuses have got even worse since then. 2014 saw the kidnapping and murder of 43 students in an event that prosecutors believe was carried out by gangsters with the full knowledge and complicity of the police.
Officers have been accused of rounding up the students and handing them over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, which slaughtered them and incinerated their bodies.
No doubt there’s a lesson somewhere in there about the right to keep and bear arms as well as exporting arms to corrupt and oppressive governments.
Anyway, could the news get worse for H&K? Well, yes, it turns out that it can.
In a separate incident on Thursday…”Der Spiegel” [reported] that a senior German [government] official had written a letter to the military intelligence service MAD, asking it to try to find the source of leaks about the G36 assault rifle.
According to the report, the official wrote the letter at the demand of Heckler & Koch, which feared recent media reports on the assault rifle’s shortcomings could damage the company’s reputation….
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday she found it “very strange” that Heckler & Koch had approached the ministry about the issue and that it was “completely unacceptable” that the civil servant supported the initiative.
Nick pointed out in an earlier post that H&K appeared to have eschewed civilian sales, instead betting the farm on military and government business. That strategy hasn’t worked out well for Colt. With all of the other news piling up, it looks like that wasn’t the only bad decision they’ve made recently.