Heckler & Koch on Trial for Selling Guns to Mexico Illegally

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Mexican soldier with an older HK33E (Yuri Cortez /AFP/Getty)

This month Heckler & Koch employees will face legal proceedings in Germany for illegally selling firearms to Mexico.

Six former employees, including two former executives, are on trial in Stuttgart for the violation of Germany’s War Weapons Control Act and the Foreign Trade Act. It is alleged that the company sold approximately 4,500 G36 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 illegally.

The charges were initially filed eight years ago by anti-arms trade activist Jürgen Grässlin, of the RüstungInformationsBüro (Arms Information Office). It is reported that HK-made rifles were used during a number of police shootings including the shooting of students in Iguala, Guerrero.

In the run up to the legal proceedings Heckler & Koch issued this statement in response:

In the run-up to the trial of former employees of Heckler & Koch GmbH at Stuttgart Regional Court starting Tuesday, May 15, 2018, the company has pointed out that Heckler & Koch has not only fully cooperated since the beginning of the investigation, but has also actively contributed to the clarification of the incidents and commissioned a comprehensive special investigation. The results of this investigation report have been made available to the authorities.

Heckler & Koch is aware of its social and legal responsibility. As a result of the incidents, the company has made drastic and extensive changes to prevent such events from occurring in the future.

Thus, the sales strategy was fundamentally changed and new ethical standards established. Since then, our products have only been supplied to states that fulfill clear and comprehensible criteria as “green countries”. This includes states that belong to the EU or NATO, or that have association agreements with NATO and other additional requirements.

In addition, Heckler & Koch has pioneered internal compliance management systems that consistently increase the sense of responsibility of the company and its employees and, in addition, rigorously audit each potential distribution partner. In addition, a newly defined Code of Conduct for Employees, the guidelines on “Anti-Corruption” and “Antitrust Law” and the “Ethical Business Principles” shape the binding corporate mission statement.

This far-reaching change is the clear signal both internally and externally that Heckler & Koch is aware of its social responsibility and accepts it with great commitment and the necessary care.

Despite this the defendants deny the allegations in court, arguing that the firearms were delivered to the Mexican authorities who then undertook the onward sale of the guns within Mexico. The ‘green countries’ initiative the press release mentions preclude the company from selling to some major emerging markets including not just Mexico but also Israel, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and the entirety of Africa.

When sales of the G36 to Mexico were subsequently halted, partially due to the Mexican government’s cost concerns, production of the indigenous FX-05 Xiuhcoatl began. The FX-05 owes its external appearance and some of its intrnal design to the G36.

Sources: 1 2 3 4

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: TheFirearmBlog.com & Overt Defense.com. Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at: matt@thefirearmblog.com

More by Matthew Moss

Join the conversation
8 of 60 comments
  • Tom Tom on May 22, 2018

    Sounds similar to how Sig ran afoul of German and was banned from importing any of their German guns to the US, when Columbia bought 65,000 Sig's from the DOD after the German Sig export contract stated that guns shipped to Sig NH in the US would stay in the US. Germany has no sense of humor about these things. Sig also fully cooperated in the investigation and claimed they had no idea they were doing anything wrong.

    If so, that could be pretty ugly for HK. Sig got "lucky" in that the result of that screw up was that they were only banned from exporting German Sig's to the USA, because the guns first came to Sig USA and then were incorrectly sold. In this case HK sold them directly to another country from Germany. Germany could pull all of their exporting permits immediately and see how long HK stays in business when they can only sell inside Germany.

    • See 5 previous
    • Tom Tom on May 23, 2018

      @john huscio Now that I can absolutely agree with! (rant on) Sig has fallen a long ways since they hired the VP of Kimber (ever notice how Sig's guns all of a sudden started being more about 20 versions of the same thing). Every new Sig product has major issues due to a clear lack of testing, MPX, MCX, 320, now the 365. The MPX and MCX both needed major gas system revisions, again showing they clearly are not properly testing the platform prior to release. The MPX is basically on Gen 4 in 3 years, the MCX Gen 3 in 3 years. The P365 is already on Gen 2 with barrel/slide peening and broken firing pin issues even after the Gen 2 update. They leave purchasers of their new guns out in the cold a year or two later when they bring out the next generation with various parts that are not backward compatible making the fixes to a product that never should have been released in the first place. How are those MPX caliber conversion kits coming along that were promised back in 2015? Worse yet, you see people with the same generation, using the same ammo, having completely different experiences/issues that says to me their quality control and tolerances are horribly inconsistent.

      Even Sig's top people either are clueless or make repeated false promises, about releases, timelines, accessories, etc. If you believed the head of Sig Handguns at SHOT 2017 all 4 models of the P210 should have been on the market in 2017. Head of the Sig Academy said they were shipping "now!", only to be wrong by an entire year. They are both on video making these promises. Now that they are on the government $ trough it's only going to get worse.

  • Rogertc1 Rogertc1 on May 23, 2018

    The FX-05 Xiuhcoatl is a Mexican assault rifle, designed and built by the Dirección General de Industria Militar del Ejército disregarding https://uploads.disquscdn.c... https://uploads.disquscdn.c... all patton's brought this on

    comment photo