U.S. arms control group makes Mexico minister 'person of year' after gun lawsuit

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Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard speaks during a U.S.-Mexico High Level Security Dialogue (HLSD) at the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico, October 8, 2021. Patrick Semansky/Pool via REUTERS

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MEXICO CITY, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Mexico's foreign minister and its government were on Friday named the 2021 arms control persons of the year by a major U.S. lobby in recognition of a lawsuit they filed against several American arms manufacturers.

The Mexican government launched its lawsuit in August, arguing arms makers including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc (SWBI.O) and Sturm Ruger & Company Inc (RGR.N) knew their practices had encouraged illegal arms trafficking into Mexico, helping to cause thousands of gangland deaths.

The arms industry has rejected Mexico's allegations, and in November asked a U.S. judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

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The Arms Control Association said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won from a field of eight nominees in an online poll that drew thousands of participants from dozens of countries.

"The Mexican foreign ministry's lawsuit against the U.S. firearms companies represents an important new way to hold rogue actors accountable for their role in the violence caused by small arms trafficking across international borders," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The various nominees for the annual contest were put forward by the Arms Control Association.

Ebrard celebrated the award on Twitter, and paid tribute to the work of his ministry's legal team.

The gun manufacturers have argued that through its $10 billion lawsuit Mexico is seeking to punish them for sales of firearms that are both lawful and constitutionally protected.

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Reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City Editing by Matthew Lewis

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