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Cablegate: Blue Lantern Level 3: Pre-License End-Use Check

VZCZCXYZ0017
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0692 2381502
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251502Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0036
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000692

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR PM/DTCC - BLUE LANTERN COORDINATOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC KOMC CS
SUBJECT: BLUE LANTERN LEVEL 3: PRE-LICENSE END-USE CHECK
CONDUCTED ON LICENSE 050108543

REF: A. STATE 69218
B. 06 SAN JOSE 1586

1. Per Ref A request, on August 21, we met with Juan Carlos
Martin, the owner of Armas Martin Armar, and established the
bona fides of the company. We consider Armas Martin Armar a
legitimate recipient of United States Munitions List (USML)
items. Martin told us he was familiar with the regulations
governing the import of U.S.-origin defense articles,
including restrictions on re-transfer or re-export. We
recommend approval of the license to import the weapons as
described in Ref A.

2. Armas Martin Armar, located in San Jose, has been in
business since 2003. In 2006, this company was subject to an
unfavorable Blue Lantern (Ref B) due to its then relationship
with unreliable gunshop Armeria Rex. During our August 21
visit, Martin was transparent about all interactions that his
company has had with Armeria Rex. As a result of losing the
license in 2006, he stopped selling weapons to other
gunshops. When asked about his current business relationship
with Armeria Rex, Martin said they no longer sell weapons to
them but they occasionally buy some accessories from Rex,
such as electronic stun guns, mace spray, etc. He made it
clear that he would not sell weapons to Armeria Rex now or in
the future.

3. Martin also clarified Post's confusion regarding the
relationship between his company and another company,
Electromecanica Pablo Murillo, due to background checks we
completed on Martin Armar showing the two companies sharing
the same phone number. Martin said that he and Pablo Murillo
had founded a business corporation to sell arms back in 2003
with assistance from Murillo's father, who works for ICE
(Costa Rica's national telecom provider). Murillo's father
assisted them with the installation of their phone lines and
were thus registered under the name Electromecanica Pablo
Murillo. Though now split, Armas Martin Armar pays the phone
bill under the original registration name of Electromecanica
because they did not want to change their phone number for
their customers. Martin said they would do the necessary
work to drop the name of Electromecanica, yet still hopefully
keep the same phone number.

4. We also shared with Martin a press article detailing some
negative information on Finlander Paniagua, who has bought
weapons from Martin Armar in the past and resold them to
customers in the northern part of Costa Rica. Martin was
unaware of any potential problems with Paniagua and assured
us he would be diligent in the future with any dealings with
him. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) informed us that
Paniagua does have a valid permit to sell weapons in Costa
Rica, but that he can only sell one weapon at a time with a
lawyer's script. We do not expect Martin Armar to sell
weapons to Paniagua in the future. We also checked all of
Martin Armar's weapons sales in 2008 and no weapons had been
sold to Paniagua.

5. The security of the premises of Martin Armar seems very
good. There are three barred, reinforced doors between the
exterior entrance and the weapons displays. The weapons
storage vault, as previously described in Ref B, has a
reinforced door with heavy security locks. The store has a
modern alarm and camera system. Martin Armar maintains files
on all of their customers and is visited twice a week by the
MPS's General Directorate for Arms and Explosives to review
and approve purchase requests and final sales. The company
has a valid license to import and sell firearms from the
Ministry.

=======
COMMENT
=======

6. Martin was transparent and clearly wanted to cooperate
with us. There was no hesitation to show us records, files,
or explain the nature of his company's relationship with
Armeria Rex. All of his paperwork seemed in order and well
organized. Of all the gunshops in Costa Rica Post has
visited in recent memory, there is little doubt that this one
has the best security and most professional image.
CIANCHETTE

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