For Immediate Release
Minnesota Man Convicted of 18 Counts Related to International Arms Smuggling
MINNEAPOLIS—Recently in federal court, a jury found a Minneapolis man guilty of smuggling guns to Nigeria and lying on required federal firearms purchase records. Sheriff Olaleran Mohammed, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen currently living in Brooklyn Park, was convicted on Monday of one count of Smuggling Goods from the United States and 17 counts of providing False Statements During the Purchase of a Firearm. Mohammed was indicted in October 15, 2013 and was arrested November 22, 2013 in Atlanta, when returning from Nigeria. His trial before United States District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson began June 11, 2014 and concluded Monday.
“Gun smuggling overseas is a serious offense our office will pursue aggressively,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “I am pleased with the jury’s verdict and with the hard work that led to that verdict.”
The investigation began in the fall of 2012 when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discovered seven handgun purchases were made within days of each other at a gun shop in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. Investigators eventually discovered Mohammed had made a total of 17 handgun purchases between 2009 and 2012. ATF investigators suspected there was a high likelihood Mohammed had lied on at least some of the firearms purchase forms, which are required by U.S. law to legally purchase weapons from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Agents of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) determined Mohammed was engaged in the international export business and that he frequently traveled to Nigeria, which raised further questions about the unusual number of purchases.
In December 2012, HSI agents further discovered that Mohammed was shipping a vehicle to Nigeria via ocean container through Valencia, Spain and suspected at least some of the weapons were hidden inside.
HSI agents contacted Spanish law enforcement officers in Madrid who halted the shipment, inspected the vehicle and discovered seven 9 mm, and one .22 caliber handguns hidden within the vehicle. The firearms were seized by Spanish authorities and later turned over to U.S. authorities for use in Mohammed’s criminal proceedings.
Mohammed faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count. Judge Nelson will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This conviction is the result of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Calhoun-Lopez.