Sig SAUER (Germany) Raided By SWAT

Seventy pistols manufactured by Sig SAUER GmbH (Germany) were allegedly sold to the Kazakhstan Republican Guard in 2010. According to export paperwork, they were being exported to the USA for civilian sales. An unnamed company in the USA then obtained export approval from the State Department and send these German-made Sig pistols to Kazakhstan.

This kind of gun deal, know as a bypass transaction, is illegal in most countries and in Germany is a violation of the Foreign Trade Act and the Arms Act. End-user certificates showing the final destination of the weapons must be presented when applying for export approval. A few days ago Sig SAUER GmbH (Germany) were raided by a SWAT unit, 12 detectives and the state prosecutor’s office.

I would guess that the police raid’s purpose was to discover if Sig SAUER employees had known the pistols were actually going to end up in Kazakhstan. I would not be surprised to learn that the relevant federal law enforcement agencies in the USA are also investigating the transfer. It would also not surprise me to learn that this whole episode is nothing more sinister than poorly filled out paperwork.

The 2,000-strong Kazakhstan Republican Guard was established in 1992. Their allegiance is to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and they are tasked his protection. The Armed Forces of  Kazakhstan are mostly armed with former USSR weapons, but their special forces recently acquired 7.62x39mm Beretta ARX-160 rifles.

Thanks to Troubleshooter Berlin for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Esh325

    I see nothing wrong in what they did. The shipment of arms always has to be tightly regulated to makes sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

    • patrickw

      The big question, and the one that is probably being looked at, is if Sig Sauer Gmbh was aware the pistols were going to K-stan when filing export papers. If they did so knowingly, they violated German, EU, and several Intl trade laws. If the US company who exported them to K-stan knowingly through deception, did this, they violated US and Intl trade laws.

      Now, if a US company acquired the weapons through legal means, then decided to export them later, it sounds more like a paperwork fumble than anything…. however they still may have broken laws.

      Bypass transactions are illegal in the US, and EU. It is also against many trade agreements and treaties, which the US and EU are party to.

      My guess is the US company who exported them are the ones who more than likely did so wrongly, and will likely lose Dept. of State export rights and pay a hefty fine. Sig Sauer Gmbh will likely be fined a few million Euros, unless they knowingly participated in a bypass transaction, then employees involved will go to jail, and the company fined a vast sum….

      • Cynic

        so what if I sell to a company it is then my fault if they sell to someone else and that’s ok? So Cynic Firearms sells 1200 WTF 9mm pistols to bob’s gun and bait shop signing the paperwork saying they were for sale in the usa then they flog them to whereverthehellistan and that is cause for the police to kick my door in and fine me “a few million euro” when I did nothing wrong and bob’s gun and bait shop are the ones who fucked up and that’s ok…? Wow. I get punishing Sig if they were involved in a bypass sale but the fact they can be fined for what another company without their knowledge does with product purchased from them is madness.

  • MOG

    SWAT training.

  • PatrickPM

    Do we know the name of the American company?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I don’t, but I am looking into it.

  • ColaBox

    Must be odd to see your own guns pointed at you…

    • Joe Blow

      Looks like another case of encouragement for a gun manufacture to not sell to law enforcement unless civilians can have it. When big companies that silent behind closed door agreement(the law apply to others not you, we’ll make an exception to keep your employee’s tax dollars here and your company can get out paying taxes that aren’t passed on to the end of consumer… ) to operate in a business that the public can’t purchase(or licensing fees are so prohibitive they might as well be banned) and/or can’t use their products….

      A little taste of what their lowly common peasant shooters who use or want to use their products is a good reminder for SIG. For them to encourage better laws(beyond profit motivation), move to better countries, and adapt a policy of not selling to governmental agencies anything that people may not process. While this was a bit over reaction since the police were raiding a place with thousands of guns, the fact is most were not in “shoot-able” state because they were in some state of assembly and/or boxed up and ammo was not loaded. Let alone may not have been available but on the test range.

    • john huscio

      i read somewhere that the german federal police carry HK USPs…..

  • Mystick

    How exactly does one determine the End User, in advance, when a product is delivered to what is effectively a retailer?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Welcome to the world of arms dealing.

      • Formynder

        In the international business world they usually wait until they have an order for a product, then manufacture it or ship it from the manufacturer’s warehouses to whomever the purchaser is, who has to provide proof that they have an end customer already and aren’t simply storing the product for a future sale. It’s a big headache for everyone involved, but with each country having their own import/export restrictions it’s necessary to cover their rears.

  • Risky

    SWAT team to find receipts? I guess they don’t have subpoenas in Germany…

    • MacK

      As long as every Officer went home without a papercut, think of the children.

    • S O

      Only stupid people and racketeers issue subpoenas if there’s a chance that the offender will destroy evidence.
      You go and grab the evidence yourself.

  • Vhyrus

    Is Kazakhstan some terrorist hotbed? If not, why is it a huge deal? If they had gone to France or Argentina would it have been different?

    • S O

      This doesn’t matter as long as they had no license to export this particular shipment of guns to the country where it ended up. Illegal is illegal and you better don’t allow tolerate small offences if you want to prevent bigger ones.
      One in a decade a clap on the fingers for a few dozen pistols is better than them getting too relaxed and ending up exporting hundred of assault rifles to a really wrong country sometime.

      • Vhyrus

        If a SWAT raid is ‘a clap on the fingers’ I would REALLY hate to see what you think a serious police operation looks like.

        • S O

          A SEK team (SWAT) in full gear, breaking in instead of ringing the door, handcuffing everyone then asking questions.

          Ours do most of their work in relatively normal outfits, with relatively normal yet resolute manners – and policemen rarely ever handcuff anyone in Germany.
          Recently, the police statistic of Germany (>80 million people) counted less than 100 shots fired at people in an entire year.

          You shouldn’t think “American SWAT” when you read “German SWAT”.

          • Lt Dan

            That is true about German police rarely handcuffing prisoners or others. If you cause problems you get beaten until you are no longer a problem. Germany operates a lot differently than USA.

  • Mr. Mike – SSO

    Raid are done by SWAT only for one purpose, so that employees can not distort any evidence. Normally they are followed by a group of Detectives and people from the prosecuters office.

    My question is why did SIG Germany sell to a US company, why did this US based company did not buy oat the US SIG factory , specially as the gun ( without shipping ) are much cheaper then the german SIG Pistols plus adding transport…..doesn’t makes any sense to me.

    This is probably the reason why the german prosecutors are interest into the german paperworks.

    Plus SIG Germany has exclusive distribution contacts with SIG USA, no weapons can be sold directly all weapons have to go thought SIG Exeter…..also SIG USA must have known about this shipment to this US based company…..if not SIG Germany did for sure knew about the strange deal behind the shipment to KZ.

    No matter how…..sounds all strange to me.

    • JaredN

      Using SWAT on a raid like this is ridiculous. SIG executives weren’t going to shoot it out with police. It is just another example of the militarization of police.

      • Mr. Mike – SSO

        German law, these action should be done my swat unites, it is more about rapid entry then about anyone of the german office would open fire …

      • clinton notestine

        most europoean police dont walk around like they are on duty in Anbar like they do here. SWAT there takes care of things like this where people might be doing things in a hurry or if there might be violence… it is a gun plant after all.

      • Jeremy Star

        It’s more about getting in quickly with no warning so office workers don’t have time to shred files/microwave hard drives and destroy evidence.

        But, yeah, they probably don’t need to do it armed with machine guns.

      • Aaron E

        Searching for records doesn’t seem a big deal, but a company executive who “knew” of illegal arms trades with a lengthy prison sentence, can suddenly become a very unpredictable equation. Not at all saying that SIG Sauer execs knew of this, just presenting the scenario.

        SWAT Teams are trained for rapid entry and control of persons. Detectives are trained for detailed investigations under controlled circumstances.

        You might be surprised to know that guys with child porn on their computers are often much more volatile, than a drug dealer. The drug dealer is what he is, the porn perp usually has what appears to be a very normal life that is about to come crashing down forever.

  • noguncontrol

    legalize bypass transactions. its just a few pistols, not nukes or viruses. what a waste of time and money.

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    Most likely the Neo-Nazi German government didn’t get their piece of the action and are punishing SIG for trying to evade the proper bribe. Geoff Who is very cynical.

  • Marc

    SIG is an acronym for Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft, Sauer is the family name of the gunsmith Johann Paul Sauer. The correct spelling is thus “SIG Sauer”, not “Sig SAUER”.

    • RDB

      The spelling is correct; the capitol lettering is reversed.

  • kipy

    Maybe Germany has inferior potasium?

    • neeko

      All other countries have inferior potassium!

  • avconsumer2

    Oh Mr. Holder… did you lose / approve the loss of some MORE guns?!

  • Andrew

    Sources tell TMZ the pistols were purchased by producers for the upcoming film “Borat 2.”

    • Mark

      Jagshemash! Learnings For Make Glorious SIG Sauer 😀

  • Mark Monteleone

    So, if SIG GMBH sells any guns to an American buyer who then resells the guns to K-stan, it’s a bypass?

    Nobody is saying SIG GMBH is selling them illegally, or that K-stan was a prohibited buyer. Just that the German government felt like they got cut out of the deal and didn’t get a chance to review it.

    Hence the SWAT team and show of power.

    It remains to be seen what if anything was illegal other than the German gov’t.’s hissy fit over it. Hearing how bad HK is screwed over by their government, this is a no brainer. It’s all about politics and looking like somebody is doing their job.

    LIke, arresting all and sundry at the SHOT Show one year and dragging them thru the courts. End User Certification is just the same as Universal Background checks. The government gets to persecute who they want and impose their will on them.

    Where are the international authorities when Cartel gangstas are displaying full auto weapons from foreign countries in Mexico? End User Certification likely doesn’t even exist.

    Again, a showboat move.

    • TCBA_Joe

      HK has gotten in some serious trouble over selling weapons to Mexico that ended up in cartel hands.

  • Again folks we don’t allow calling people,legitimate governments Nazis. The comment will be deleted.

  • Mike

    Was a SWAT raid necessary? This isn’t some banger selling stolen guns out of his trunk, it’s Sig effin SAUER.

    • Giolli Joker

      Yep. SWAT teams should only be used if the the company raided has access to guitars…

    • S O

      There are only three kinds of police units in Germany available for such actions without interruption of normal duties:

      – Bereitschaftspolizei; mostly inexperienced young policemen, not first choice for such a raid (better for riot prevention at football games or rallies)
      – MEK (could be translated as “SWAT”), mostly for observation and surveillance, also for not terribly dangerous arrests
      – SEK (classic SWAT), rarely used in actions which require its skills or equipment (hostage situations, arrests of armed & dangerous suspects), thus available for lower key missions such as petty raids in offices

      You can bet they didn’t assault the building in full kit; they did more likely wear police berets, a single sidearm and work clothes without body armour during such a raid. I don’t know when the raid happened, but this is typically being done very early in the morning, like 0600. Most likely they ringed the bell, the gatekeeper opened and then they began looking. Some other employees likely told them where to look and then everything would typically be done in a quite civil manner, including the obligatory civilian witness belonging to the local administration (city, county; typically a very bored and annoyed civil servant).
      Also, a state attorney and members of his office were present.

  • BryanS

    Iz very nice pistol, ya?

  • RicoSuave

    This does not make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan

  • Gast3

    The linked article states that SIG Sauer didnt recieve permission for an export to Kazakhstan by the German government. Guns were however exported to a SIG Sauer subsidiary in the US for civilian use. From there they were exported to Kazakhstan with permission of the US governement. News agencies state the same.

    I wouldn’t take the word that the raid has been executed by an SEK (SWAT). German newspapers usually can’t hold all the police units appart from each other. The article even wrongfully used the term Sondereinsatzkommando when the correct term is Spezialeinsatzkommando. There are other police units that are specialized in the preservation of evidence (BFE, Beweissicherungs- und Festnahmeeinheiten) that could have been subsumed under this term.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    “Bypass transaction”….in arms trafficking circles this is usually called ‘grey market’ transactions. For example, a guy in the US wants a MiG. He cant buy it because of deals regarding arms and Russians. So the Mig gets ‘sold’ to a dealer in Turkey (or other country that the US has a better plicy with). The guy then buys his Mig from the Turks. Grey market deal. Guy here in the valley did exactly that and him and his buddies now have joint ownership of MiG that they fly once in a while.

  • gggplaya

    More of that arms trade treaty BS. Regulate, Regulate, Regulate. It’s not like these guards are terrorists. When you write all these laws, someone is bound to accidentally violate it and go to jail.

  • heye

    Must be the fault of Borat

  • William Farber

    Raided by SWAT. They could have walked in wearing suits and gone over the paperwork. The US isn’t the only country preparing its citizens for state slavery and internment. Get used to it.

  • BreakAwayWar

    Governments Hate Competition. No one got rich on the sale of seventy (70) pistols. I doubt if Sig Sauer would chance the loss of their company for 70 hand guns.