For Immediate Release
Iraqi Gun Smuggler Convicted in Federal Trial
Firearms intercepted at Port of Savannah
DUBLIN, GA: An Iraqi national was convicted on charges of attempting to smuggle guns through the Port of Savannah after a three-day trial in federal court.
Nihad Al Jaberi, 42, of Clarkston, Ga., was convicted on charges of Smuggling, Failure to Notify a Common Carrier, and Submitting False or Misleading Export Information, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Conviction on the smuggling charge subjects Al Jaberi to a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and substantial financial penalties.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“As the Port of Savannah has continued to support substantially increased import and export traffic, our law enforcement partners have done an outstanding job of stepping up to intercept illegal shipments and maintain border security,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Stopping Al Jaberi’s smuggling attempt prevents a significant shipment of firearms to an already dangerous area of the world.”
As described at trial, Al Jaberi, an Iraqi citizen and legal permanent resident of the United States, was attempting in August 2020 to ship six .308-caliber long-range rifles and three handguns concealed in a shipment in which the contents were listed as “71 Pieces of Spare Auto Parts with No License Required.” The firearms, which were discovered disassembled along with used automotive parts in a container at the Port of Savannah, had been obtained through straw purchases at various Atlanta-area sporting goods stores.
Al Jaberi was remanded to custody pending sentencing.
“The successful prosecution and conviction of Al Jaberi is yet another example of excellent collaboration at the federal level in the Southern District of Georgia with each organization contributing unique authorities and capabilities to enforce U.S. laws,” said Henry DeBlock III, Area Port Director for CBP Savannah. “CBP officers assigned to the Port of Savannah will continue to vigorously enforce U.S. export control laws as part of our overall border security duties and responsibilities in the maritime environment.”
“In the wrong hands, these export-controlled, high-powered rifles could enable malign actors to harm our warfighters, allies, and innocent civilians overseas,” said Special Agent in Charge Ariel Joshua Leinwand, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement (OEE), Miami Field Office. “This guilty verdict is a testament to OEE’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt the illegal export of sensitive, controlled items.”
“Preventing the flow of illegal weapons and the associated violence helps protect communities around the globe,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “This criminal will no longer be able to exploit our nation’s logistics systems for his criminal enterprise.”
“This case and ultimate conviction highlights the fact that illegal gun trafficking not only affects our local communities, but has implications far beyond our borders” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka. “At a time in which our ports are seeing unprecedented traffic, this case highlights the need for ATF and our partners to be vigilant in investigating and prosecuting individuals who supply the illegal arms trade.”
The case was investigated by U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security and by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security Investigations, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Darron J. Hubbard and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer G. Solari, and by Northern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore S. Hertzberg.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
A photo introduced as evidence in USA v. Nihad Al Jaberi includes nine firearms from a shipment interdicted in the Port of Savannah and reassembled, along with other firearms removed during a search of the defendant’s residence.