Tuesday, June 18, 2024

US approval awaited for armed forces’ automatic rifles purchase

The Mexican navy is set to buy U.S. automatic assault rifles worth as much as US $5.5 million, subject to approval by the U.S. government.

The arms will be sold by U.S. manufacturer Sig Sauer, which is the largest member of L&O Holdings, a worldwide business group of firearms manufacturers.

Weapons that contain parts or intellectual property from the United States fall under U.S. export control rules, which means sales require governmental approval.

There are two principal ways for foreign governments to purchase weapons from the United States: direct commercial sales negotiated with companies, and foreign military sales in which governments typically contact a Defense Department official at the U.S. embassy. Both require a governmental go-ahead, and it is not clear which method was employed in this case.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. and Sig Sauer did not respond to requests for comment by the news agency Reuters. Likewise, the U.S. State Department refused to give specific details on the case.

The deal could prove controversial as most of the weapons involved in violence in Mexico in recent decades have come from the United States, many by illegal means. About 70% of weapons seized from crimes in the country are traced back to the U.S., according to a report by the United States Governmental Accountability Office, published in February.

The arms manufacturer in the deal is no stranger to controversy either. Sig Sauer CEO Ron Cohen avoided jail in Germany in 2019 for the illegal shipment of 38,000 pistols sent to Colombia, which was still in active conflict at the time. Through a plea deal, Cohen was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and fined $675,000. Meanwhile, Sig Sauer’s German division was required to pay more than $12 million.

With reports from Reuters

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