Police raid German gunmaker over Mexico arms supplies

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

STUTTGART - German police searched the offices of Heckler and Koch, a German manufacturer of premium firearms, Tuesday over suspicions that its exports of rifles to Mexico may break German arms-export laws, prosecutors in Stuttgart said.

German law forbids unlicensed exports to zones of conflict.

A spokeswoman said Heckler and Koch, which supplies armies, police forces and hunters worldwide with high-powered rifles and small arms, was suspected of breaching German arms export laws through its Mexico sales.

She said an export licence for Mexico issued to the German gunmaker specifically forbade it to sell guns in four Mexican states which are suspected of human rights breaches. She said Heckler and Koch was accused of selling its weapons in those states.

The company confirmed its offices at Oberndorf in southern Germany were searched. It said it was cooperating with the inquiry, but insisted the allegations against it were untrue.

Files were seized at the offices near Stuttgart by 20 police officers.

The disclosure came as US anti-gun campaigners pressed Washington to halt cross-border sales of automatic rifles by gun merchants to Mexico, where drugs gangs have so far killed 10,000 people in an armed reign of terror.

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