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Cablegate: Nicaragua: Blue Lantern 050200863 and Gc-189609: Armeria Magnum

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1376/01 3552058
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 212058Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0309
INFO RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001376

SIPDIS
PM/DTCC - BLUE LANTERN COORDINATOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETTC KOMC NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA: BLUE LANTERN 050200863 AND GC-189609: ARMERIA MAGNUM

REF: 09 STATE 120098

General Background

1. On December 1, Econoff and ARSO met with Salvador Luna, owner of Armeria Magnum, at his store located in Centro Comercial, a large shopping center in Managua. Luna told Emboffs that he founded Armeria Magnum in 2001. Armeria Magnum is authorized by the National Police to import and sell firearms. The sector is regulated by the Nicaraguan Government. Luna sells to individuals who provide documentation that they are authorized by the National Police to carry a firearm. Requirements include a psychological evaluation, criminal background check, and weapons familiarization training.

Reftel Questions

3. In response to reftel questions, Luna told Emboffs that he sells
pistols, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, accessories, clothing,
holsters and carrying equipment, and bullets. He also runs a
shooting range. [Note: RSO personnel and local guards train at
Luna's facility. End Note.] His main customers are security
companies and their personnel, workers on farms and ranches, and
wealthier individuals who shoot for recreational or competitive
purposes. He is also authorized to sell guns to other licensed gun
stores in Managua. He stated that there are occasions when he
imports guns in cooperation with other gun stores because the
sellers take the order more seriously when it is a larger order. He
stated that he has no relationship to Gun Depot or Ricardo Alfonso
Umana Luna of Guatemala. He added that he does not sell firearms to
customers who reside outside of Nicaragua because it is against the
law.

4. Mr. Luna reported that his annual sales of U.S.-origin firearms
are approximately 100 to 200 firearms per year. He said that he
imports approximately the same amount of U.S.-origin firearms per
year and only a very small percentage come from countries other
than the United States. He was able to show paper records
documenting his sales.

5. Econoff spoke with Comisionado Horacio Sobalvarro, Chief of the
Weapons Division of the National Police. He had no information to
report on Mr. Luna or Armeria Magnum that would call into question
the company's reliability as a recipient of U.S. defense articles.
He stated that Armeria Magnum is properly authorized to import and
sell defense articles in Nicaragua.

Third Country Purchases

6. Mr. Luna reported that he purchased 200 Smith & Wesson .38
caliber revolvers from Centrum S.A. in El Salvador once in October
2007, and provided documentation for the purchase. He said the
purchase was paid for by a wire transfer through a bank. He
asserted that he has not purchased guns from Centrum since then. He
imported guns once from a seller called Kerberos Trade Ltd., a
company located in the Czech Republic, though none of those guns
were U.S.-origin. He purchases guns from S.K. International Arms
Trading Ltd., a company located in Israel. However, only 10
firearms out of a total of 320 purchased from this company were
U.S.-origin firearms (four High Standard revolvers, and six
Harrington Richardson revolvers); the rest were from other
countries. Mr. Luna provided documentation of his company's
purchases from the Czech Republic and Israel. It appears that he
buys the majority of his U.S.-origin guns directly from the United
States through Valor Corporation in Florida and Century Arms in
Vermont.

7. Luna said that he is familiar with the regulations governing the import of U.S-origin defense articles, but was unaware of the restrictions of re-transfer or re-export. He has regularly imported firearms from Century Arms and Valor Corporation, and appeared to be well-versed in the process and rules governing direct exports. He was unaware, however, that the purchase from Centrum S.A. in El Salvador also required U.S. approval. Luna noted that other gun shops in Nicaragua had also purchased guns from El Salvador because of the surplus in used firearms created by the Salvadoran National Civil Police (PNC) weapons exchange. He claimed that he did not know that there was a problem in his purchase of U.S.-origin firearms from Centrum in El Salvador, but assured Emboffs that he would check all the regulations with the embassy before purchasing weapons in the future.

Physical Security

8. The store's security is comparable to that of other guns stores in Nicaragua. The store is protected at night by an armed security guard employed directly by Armeria Magnum. Armed guards employed by the shopping center provide additional security, and a police station is located 200 meters away. The storefront is made of glass. Firearms are displayed in unlocked glass cases. Luna said that when there are demonstrations or other security concerns, the employees lock up the guns in his warehouse. Luna acknowledged that there is no alarm system, but outlined plans to install an alarm system and five video cameras in January 2010. ARSO suggested that Luna improve the locks on his glass door, supplement the glass store-front with grill work, purchase a locking metal gate to support the glass door, add an alarm or a video monitoring system, buy a large weapon safe for after-hours weapon lock-up, and remove the weapons from the display area when the business is closed. ARSO believes current security satisfies acceptable requirements for Nicaraguan gun stores, but the security would be considered inadequate for a firearms store in the United States. Luna agreed with the ARSO's suggestions and stated that he would begin with the video and alarm system.

Comment

9. Mr. Luna seems eager to follow international law governing gun
sales. He is enthusiastic about his relationship with the United
States and the Embassy. He noted that he trained with shooting guru
Jeff Cooper at the American Pistol Institute in Arizona. He is
elated that the RSO and Marine Security Guards train at his
shooting range. He was cooperative and eager to provide detailed
documentation of his sales. He emphasized that in the firearms
business it is vital to take the need for strict regulation
seriously. It is post's opinion that if there was any wrongdoing in
the import of firearms from Centrum S.A., Mr. Luna was probably
unaware of it. In post's assessment, Armeria Magnum is a reliable
recipient of United States Munitions List (USML) items.

CALLAHAN

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