Cablegate: Three Purchases by Deportes El Cazador Ok:

Published: Tue 2 Mar 2004 02:34 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
05-903671, 05-910606, 05-910607
REF: STATE 26986
1. (U) This message contains proprietary business
information. Please protect. Not for internet distribution.
2. (SBU) On February 27, EmbOffs met with Deportes El
Cazador's owner and president Rolando GONZALEZ Salerno at the
company's offices, which are co-located with Gonzalez'
residence. Since Deportes El Cazador was incorporated with
Panama's Public Registry on July 16, 1991, the company has
been located at its present site for the last seven of nearly
13 years. Gonzalez stated that El Cazador is primarily a
wholesaler to large Panamanian department store chains, such
as, El Machetazo and Cochez. The company's offices have no
external markings, signs or advertisements, and Gonzalez
apparently relies on trade shows and word of mouth to attract
clients. The company also sells to smaller stores outside of
Panama City and to GOP agencies. There is no indication that
the referenced purchases of weapons and ammunition will be
diverted outside of Panama. According to Gonzalez, El
Cazador almost exclusively purchases from US firms, except
for the company's Glock stock from Austria. The company
stores weapons within a double-door steel vault within the
locked offices behind the residence's security wall. El
Cazador's records are impeccable, filed by US vendor and
Panamanian purchaser. The company not only meets Panamanian
legal regulations and industry standards for weapons storage
and purchases/sales records but surpasses them.
3. (SBU) Gonzalez stated that the two referenced purchases
intended for commercial re-sale represented annual orders.
EmbOffs reviewed the company's records; the orders are
actually smaller than in previous years. Embassy's Foreign
Commercial Service (FCS) office considers the order amounts
to be "normal" for the company and for Panama and confirmed
its own recent and positive check of El Cazador in January.
The company's weapons and ammunition stocks from last year
are not yet depleted, but Gonzalez times orders to take into
account the lag in the US' and Panama's authorization
processes. Gonzalez estimates stocks from this year's
purchases to last 12 to 14 months. He will place another
order around December 2004. Gonzalez noted that the GOP, as
it has in the past, will likely declare a moratorium on
weapons and ammunition sales before and after the country's
national elections on May 2 and presidential inauguration on
September 1, which may actually retard his estimates.
Regarding the one referenced purchase of ammunition intended
for re-sale to GOP agencies, EmbOffs confirmed the amounts
stated in the contract with the information provided in ref,
para 4, section C. Most of the ammunition is for use by
Panama's National Police (PNP), but smaller quantities will
be used by government security guards assigned to the Social
Security Fund, National Bank, Colon Free Zone and Panama City
Municipal offices.
4. (SBU) Panama's Public Security Director Edgardo Matteo
confirmed the GOP authorizations described in ref, para 5.
Matteo stated that the GOP has "no issues" with El Cazador or
its owners, and regarding the latter, called Gonzalez a "very
serious businessman." Matteo did not consider the amounts of
the two referenced purchases intended for commercial re-sale
to be excessive, noting that the GOP expanded and extended
the sports hunting season this year. He stated that, for
example, Panama approved the import of 3.8 million rounds of
ammunition in 2002 and a little under 2.0 million rounds of
ammunition in 2003. Matteo also pointed out that only 1.8%
of violent crimes committed in Panama each year involve a
legally imported weapon, most of which are stolen beforehand
from their authorized owners.
5. (SBU) Comment: EmbOffs also questioned the amounts of the
three purchases, but have allayed their initial concerns
after visiting the offices of Deportes El Cazador and
cross-checking with Embassy's FCS and the appropriate GOP
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