Notts arms dealer in trafficking conspiracy

Cotgrave businessman Guy Tinsley selling assault weapons at DSEi 2009

A Nottinghamshire businessman has been implicated in an international arms trafficking racket. Guy Tinsley, director of Cotgrave-based Easy Tiger International, was recorded in a series of phone conversations arranging the illegal import of AK-47 magazines into the US.

In 2008, Tinsley was acting as buyer for a US-based firearms wholesaler called American Tactical. He brokered deals to buy tens of thousands of Chinese AK-47 magazines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from German arms dealer Karl Kleber.

These deals were illegal because US law prohibits the import of firearms or ammunition from China. But that didn’t seem to trouble Tinsley. In a series of phone calls in early 2008, he told Kleber that he didn’t care where the ammo came from, and they discussed the markings that had been stamped on the magazines to falsely indicate that they had come from Bulgaria.

What they didn’t know was that, acting on a tip-off, US and German investigators were recording their conversations. In January 2011, Kleber and his co-conspirator, British arms dealer Gary Hyde were arrested. They were charged along with Paul Restorick, the Kent-based arms dealer who had recruited them. However, Tinsley has so far escaped attention.

Easy Tiger’s registered office is 10 Kingston Drive – a detached residence in a quiet cul-de-sac in the picturesque village of Cotgrave – hardly the place one would expect to find an international arms business. But in 2009 the company had a stall at DSEi – the world’s biggest arms fair – at which Tinsley was seen trying to sell 40 000 AK-47 assault rifles and 500 grenade launchers.

The AK-47 and its variants are the most widespread and worst regulated weapons in the world. They have been used by child soldiers, insurgents, criminal gangs and terrorists to massacre, maim, rape and rob in every country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and even in Britain.

According to The Guardian, “the shadowy world of Britain’s arms dealers has been thrust into the spotlight” by this arms trafficking case. Tinsley’s business associates have previously been involved with shipping weapons between warzones including Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Iraq.

There remains no effective international legal framework to prevent unethical arms brokers like Guy Tinsley from profiting from war and genocide. The implementation of the global Arms Trade Treaty would make it harder for them, but it would not trouble major arms corporations such as Nottingham-based Heckler & Koch.

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