German media reported on November 23 that Ron Cohen, the CEO of gun company Sig Sauer, was arrested at the Frankfurt airport in October for alleged involvement in an illegal delivery of 30,000 pistols to Colombia.
The pistols were part of a larger shipment from Sig Sauer’s German parent company to its U.S. branch between 2009 and 2012, which the State Department had certified would remain in the United States, according to an investigation by Panorama 3 and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Instead, the pistols were exported to Colombia for use by National Police, which has been responsible for serious human rights abuses and reports directly to the Colombian military.
Sig Sauer obtained a license from the State Department in 2015 to ship up to $265 million worth of firearms to the Mexican Navy. (See our updated Fact Sheet on Sig Sauer weapons sales to Mexico.)
After Cohen was arrested he posted bail of several million euros and was released. Four other Sig Sauer officials were reportedly charged by the court in Kiel, but charges against two of them were dropped. According to Der Spiegel, Cohen’s trial is expected to begin soon.
The Kiel prosecutor “believes that Sig Sauer initially exported around 70,000 pistols to the United States – and [gave] the promise that the country [was] also the end user.”
Between 2007 and August 2015, the Mexican military purchased and distributed 4,624 Sig Sauer pistols from the United States, including 2,832 pistols to state and local police forces, according to information released by the Mexican military. The remaining 1,792 pistols were re-sold by the military to private security companies, to the Bank of Mexico, and to private individuals.