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, the Director of Cotgrave-based Easy Tiger International, was recorded arranging the illegal import of AK-47 magazines into the US, according to a report by the Rochester, New York-based newspaper Democrat and Chronicle.

In early 2009, Tinsley was acting as a buyer for a US-based firearms wholesaler called American Tactical. He brokered a deal to buy thousands of Chinese AK-47 magazines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from German arms dealer Karl Kleber.

This deal was illegal because US law prohibited the import of firearms or ammunition from China. But that didn’t seem to trouble Tinsley. According to court documents obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle, Tinsley and Kleber discussed the stamps on the magazines (which falsely indicated that they were made in Bulgaria) and Tinsley told Kleber that he didn’t care where the magazines came from.

What they didn’t know was that US and German authorities were recording their conversations. In January 2011, Kleber and his business partner, British arms dealer Gary Hyde were arrested. They were charged along with Paul Restorick, the Kent-based arms dealer who allegedly recruited them. However, Tinsley has so far not been charged.

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. Kleber and Hyde were involved in shipping AK-47s from the former Yugoslavia to Iraq, and Restorick has admitted supplying weapons to Rwanda shortly before the genocide there.

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

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