Arms dealer Gary Hyde as entrepreneur supplied the hand gun to Thomas Hamilton, the killer in the Scotland Dunblane kindergarten massacre. After his customer’s complaint even refurbished the gun and gave a £50 discount …
Thus, in the world arms trade at gun shows and fairs, the contacts are made for murky deals through unscrupulous middlemen and involving arms deals for both the Pentagon and UK’s Ministry of Defense. Business in war is where the profits are made to sustain the worldwide arms trade.
A legal drama involving three European gun dealers offers a rare look into the small arms trade. The case exposes a murky global supply chain that seeks to fill Defense Department demand for guns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The growing legal case against three European gun dealers accused of trafficking weapons parts into the United States has shed unique light on the morally and legally ambiguous international trade in small arms.
German national Karl Kleber and British nationals Gary Hyde and Paul Restorick have been indicted for selling 5,760 AK-47 drum magazines to an arms dealer in Chili, New York plus video of AK-47 trade. The 75-round drum magazines are of Chinese origin, making them illegal under America’s 20-year-old arms embargo against Beijing.
Kleber has since pleaded guilty to the smuggling charges and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. According to his plea agreement, Kleber will share his knowledge of the illegal small arms trade as well as any information “related to terrorism, genocide or war crimes activity.”
Although the illegal drum magazines landed in the inventory of a licensed arms importer in New York, they were originally destined to fulfill a subcontract indirectly tied to the Defense Department. The case reveals a murky global supply chain that seeks to supply the demand for small arms in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the United States overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003, Washington needed lots of weapons fast to rearm an Iraqi military that it had dissolved.
One such contractor was TAOS Industries, which received an award from the Defense Department around 2006 to procure various military goods for Iraq. TAOS subcontracted the Florida-based General Defense Corporation (GDC) to help fill the DoD order. And in turn, GDC went into business with Paul Restorick of Mil Tec Marketing, located in Kent, England.
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GDC asked Restorick to locate – among other items – over 5,000 AK-47 75-round drum magazines for the TAOS order. Restorick claimed to have found Bulgarian-made magazines. However, he failed to provide the required documentation proving their origin. As a result, GDC lost its TAOS subcontract and subsequently sued Restorick for damages.
The supply chain established to fulfill a market demand created by the Defense Department began reaching into murky waters through an opaque process of contracting and subcontracting.
“You’ll get one company connected directly through the Pentagon and they have sub-contractors,” Marsh said. “Which means in the past the US Government didn’t know who exactly was providing the service because you had so many layers of people in the middle.”
Supply chain to Beijing
GDC’s suspicion of the magazines turned out to be justified. Restorick had enlisted the services of an English company called JAGO Ltd. Gary Hyde and Karl Kleber, directors of JAGO, used their contacts in Beijing to track down Chinese magazines. They then counterfeited the product to look Bulgarian.
After the GDC deal fell through, the three European gun dealers found a new customer in Chili, New York. The company American Tactical Imports [see website “Made in USA”] bought the embargoed Chinese magazines under the impression that they were Bulgarian and thus legal.
When US authorities got wind of the scam, they arrested Hyde and Kleber, both of whom were in the US at the time to attend a SHOT gun show in Las Vegas. Court documents indicate that Hyde and Kleber are also under investigation by UK and German authorities respectively. York arms dealer Gary Hyde is arrested in America
The district attorney in Mainz confirmed the investigation against Kleber. Hyde was allowed to return to his native England on bail, where he has subsequently been charged by UK authorities with illegally exporting millions of rounds of ammunition and tens of thousand of weapons.
Exposed by release WikiLeaks cables
On the retail side, York Guns Ltd sells firearms to farmers and sportsmen. On the trade side, they have conducted business with the UK’s Ministry of Defense.
York Guns appears in a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. The company applied for a license to export 130,000 Kalashnikovs to the Libyan government. However, London rejected York Guns application out of concern that the weapons would ultimately be re-exported to rebel factions in Chad and the Sudan.
Kleber owns a similar operation in Worms, Germany called Transarms. Jochen Wurster, the current managing director of Transarms, declined to comment on the Kleber case. However, he described Transarms as a company that – like York Guns – has both a retail and trade side.