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Cablegate: Blue Lantern Level 3: Post-License/Pre-Shipment

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0895 2922202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192202Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1325
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000895

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR PM/DTCC - BLUE LANTERN COORDINATOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC KOMC CS
SUBJECT: BLUE LANTERN LEVEL 3: POST-LICENSE/PRE-SHIPMENT
END-USE CHECK ON LICENSES 050134369, 050175886, 050175888,
050175889

REF: A. STATE 83456
B. ANDREW/BALLARD EMAIL 16 OCT 09

1. Per Ref A request, on September 8, we met with Randall
Gazel of El Hispano gunshop in San Jose, and established the
bona fides of the company. As a result of this check, we
consider El Hispano a legitimate recipient of United States
Munition List (USML) items. Gazel is familiar with the
regulations governing the import of U.S.-origin defense
articles as well as the International Traffic in Arms
Regulation, regarding restrictions on re-transfer or
re-export. According to Gazel, the last inspection by Post's
political office for a Blue Lantern check was in 2000,
although in 2007 Post's Foreign Commercial Service conducted
a routine inspection.

2. El Hispano has been in business for over 60 years and has
no negative comments/infractions from the Ministry of Public
Security (MPS), the GOCR's official government body with
oversight authority on gun dealerships. MPS certified to us
that El Hispano has met all of their requirements for
importing firearms. MPS renews their license annually.

3. Other than firearms and ammunition, El Hispano also sells
outdoors equipment as well as self-defense products such as
Tazers and pepper spray. Their regular customers are mostly
private citizens residing in Costa Rica. Purchasers must
comply with the following in order to buy firearms:

-- Criminal background check;

-- Undergo psychological testing;

-- Certificate of approval of safe gun handling; and

-- Registration of the firearm's serial number with the
Office of Arms and Explosives of MPS.

Around 10 percent of their sales are to private security
companies or government institutions. The government
institutions normally purchase .40 and .45 caliber pistols as
well as .357 magnum.

4. El Hispano does not import weapons for any other local
gunshops, however, they do distribute their products to
subsidiary shops located throughout the country. These shops
are in Liberia (Coyote Liberiano), Alajuela (Deportes
Huracan), and Perez Zeledon (Armeria Chacon). The weapons
purchased from the licenses listed in the subject line will
be available for purchase to both private Costa Rican
citizens and government institutions.

5. Gazel provided us with sales records from 2007-2009 (Ref
B), which includes sales for license 050134369. None of
these firearms were re-exported to end-users outside of Costa
Rica. El Hispano has never re-exported U.S.-origin firearms
or other U.S.-origin defense articles to end-users outside of
Costa Rica. Gazel estimated that El Hispano's annual sales
of U.S.-origin firearms is $300,000 to $400,000.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. Gazel was very familiar with the firearms business and
clearly wanted to cooperate with us. They are aware of
problems that other gunshops in Costa Rica have had with U.S.
licenses, particularly Armeria Rex (a gunshop that has been
found to be an unreliable user of USML in the past). Their
paperwork seemed to be organized and accurate. Security at
the San Jose store seemed good; armored vaults are used to
store weapons and they have a camera and alarm system in
place.
BRENNAN

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