A German court on Thursday rejected appeals of the convictions of two former employees of gun-maker Heckler & Koch over their role in the delivery of weapons that ended up in troubled areas of Mexico.
The Federal Court of Justice also upheld the confiscation of proceeds from the sales totaling a few million euros.
In February 2019, the Stuttgart state court convicted a former Heckler & Koch sales manager of exporting goods on the basis of fraudulently obtained permits, and an ex-clerk of being an accessory.
They were given suspended prison sentences of 22 months and 17 months, respectively. Three other defendants — two ex-managers responsible for exports and a deputy sales manager — were acquitted.
The Stuttgart court said Heckler & Koch delivered 4,219 assault rifles, two submachine guns and 1,759 ammunition magazines to Mexico that eventually were sold by the central purchasing body to Jalisco, Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero states. The exports took place in the mid- to late 2000s.
It court found that the exports to Mexico were covered by German government permits that were were fraudulently obtained with knowingly incorrect information based upon unreliable declarations from Mexican authorities on where the weapons would end up.
Human rights groups say firearms delivered to Mexico often end up in the hands of drug cartels.
The federal court said its examination of appeals from the defendants, the company and prosecutors found no legal errors in the state court’s verdict.
Heckler & Koch said at the time of the 2019 ruling that, as a result of the Mexico case, it has changed its internal compliance system and subjects “each potential distribution partner to a rigorous compliance audit.”