For Immediate Release
Columbia Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Exporting Firearms to Ghana
BALTIMORE – U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher sentenced Eric Nana Kofi Ampong Coker, 41, of Columbia, Maryland, today to 30 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for the illegal export of firearms to Ghana.
The sentence was announced by Erek L. Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore; Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard of the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service - Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and Stephen Maloney, Director of Field Operations for the Baltimore Field Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
According to his guilty plea, since 2017 Ampong Coker has purchased at least 81 firearms from three separate Maryland Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and in 2019 received Regulated Firearms Collector status through the Maryland State Police, which waived the restriction on the number of firearms he could purchase during a 30-day period. Investigators also determined that prior to 2021 Ampong Coker had shipped passenger vehicles to Ghana.
In May 2021, federal agents surveilled Ampong Coker as he retrieved firearms purchased from one of the FFLs and was then observed at a business that packaged and shipped items from the Port of Baltimore. A shipping vehicle was subsequently seen departing that location on May 27, 2021. On May 29, 2021, Ampong Coker was searched as he was departing the United States from Detroit, bound for Ghana. Agents seized foam cutouts used for packaging and securing firearms in gun cases from his luggage.
In early June 2021, HSI and CBP agents identified a shipping container scheduled to depart the Port of Baltimore for Tema, Ghana, on June 14, 2021. The listed contents of the container included a 2018 Toyota Corolla registered to Ampong Coker but did not include any firearms. On June 8, 2021, HSI, ATF, DCIS, CBP and other agents searched the contents of the shipping container. Within the trunk of the 2018 Toyota Corolla, which had Ampong Coker’s name on cardboard on top of the vehicle, the agents found a grey suitcase with five 9mm handguns previously purchased by Ampong Coker secreted in the lining of the suitcase.
Law enforcement authorities identified another shipping container bound for Ghana containing other vehicles associated with Ampong Coker. The vessel on which this container was loaded was intercepted at sea in June 2021, and returned to the Port of Baltimore. On Aug. 25, 2021, this container was searched and six 9mm handguns and 16 9mm pistol magazines were found in the vehicles associated with Ampong Coker.
Ampong Coker admitted that all of the firearms and magazines were identified on the U.S. Department of Commerce Control List, and he had not obtained the required license or written approval to export the weapons to Ghana.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, HSI, DCIS, and CBP for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney P. Michael Cunningham, who prosecuted the case.
More information: Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office’s priorities and resources and help with the community.