War profiteer of the month: Falken SA
Falken SA is a Spanish company specialising in "less lethal" weapons and other equipment used by the police and security forces in Spain, and countries in Latin America. The company produces tear gas, CS gas, smoke bombs, shackles and handcuffs, bullet proof vests for domestic use, and also markets products for the military such as smoke screens, rescue signals and pyrotechnic training systems. There is relatively limited information about the company online, which has no social media outlets and a website with almost no information about its products and services, or financial information.
Falken SA is part of the Etienne Lacroix Group, a French company specialising in pyrotechnics for civilian (i.e. fireworks) and military use. Other arms companies in the group include Alsetex and Energetics Technology.
Falken has exhibited its products at events such as Milipol in France in 2019 and the Feindef arms expo in Madrid.
Falken SA has a close relationship with the Spanish state, with one media outlet claiming that the company is "the exclusive supplier of much of the riot gear of the Spanish police", with media reports covering a wide range of sales of tear gas, smoke bombs and other equipment. Commentators have criticised large purchases of tear gas from Falken, because the Spanish police - officially at least - have reported almost no uses of the weapons since 2003, and raised issue with the fact that the company is run by three brothers from the Bardisa Jordá family; their brother Ismael Bardisa Jordá was a deputy in Spain's People's Party between 1996 and 2008.
Falken has, or has had, a relationship with a number of Latin American countries, and its products have been used against protesters across the region.
From 2010 to 2015 the Peruvian state-owned company FAME held a contract with Falken, for the production of law enforcement equipment and technology transfer. According to the Omega Research Foundation, the equipment produced under the agreement included tear gas grenades, 37/38mm tear gas ammunition, chemical irritant aerosol sprays, batons and handcuffs. In May 2018 the infodefensa.com website reported that the National Police of Peru had issued an urgent requirement for the acquisition of thousands of rounds of riot and chemical agents, and named Falken as a potential supplier. In 2013, it was reported that FAME worked with Falken to open a new bullet-proof vest factory in Lima.
The company also has a similar agreement with the Venezuelan state-owned company arms company CAVIM, which allows CAVIM to build products designed by Falken in Venezuela. According to the Omega Research Foundation this agreement was made in 2005 and was ongoing in 2016. The Venezuelan authorities regularly use large volumes of tear gas to break up protests, and it is "standard procedure" to aim tear gas canisters at the centre of a group, increasing the risk of severe injuries.
The Omega Research Foundation has also highlighted evidence on Twitter of Falken SA products being used in Buenos Aires, despite appearing to be past their expiry date.