On January 3, 2011, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, sentenced Emenike Charles Nwankwoala, of Laurel, Maryland, to 37 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for exporting arms and controlled goods without a license and delivery of a package containing a gun to a carrier without notifying the carrier of the gun as part of a scheme to export guns and ammunition to Nigeria.
According to the plea agreement, Nwankwoala worked as a state probation officer. In February 2008, Nwankwoala was granted a license to export a 12 gauge shotgun to Nigeria for personal use. In February 2009, Nwankwoala applied for an export license to export shotguns to Nigeria, stating that these weapons were to be used in the operation of a newly-opened shooting range in Nigeria. The U.S. Department of Commerce denied the license because Nwankwoala did not provide evidence of that the shooting range existed.
From December 2008 to May 2009, Nwankwoala purchased at least 37 shotguns from a gun shop in Washington, D.C. metro area and ordered 25 more shotguns over the internet from a licensed company in Ogden, Utah, falsely advising the company that he had an export license.
On May 13, 2009, Nwankwoala told an undercover ICE agent that he had made a large profit over 10 years from purchasing shotguns and shipping them to Nigeria in shipping containers with vehicles and hospital beds. Nwankwoala said he knew he needed a license to ship the guns, but had not obtained one because he could not identify the end user as required by federal law. The end user was not licensed to receive the weapons.
In July or August 2009, Nwankwoala prepared a shipping container with 24 shotguns, six pistols and ammunition, all concealed in suitcases and a car. Nwankwoala did not disclose that je was shipping firearms or ammunition. The container was delivered to a ship in Port Elizabeth, in Newark, New Jersey for shipment to Nigeria.
The ship left Porit Elizabeth and arrived in Nigeria on September 15, 2009, but the container was not unloaded based upon a request from law enforcement to have the container returned for inspection. On October 6, 2009, U.S. and Spanish law enforcement inspected the container in Algeciras, Spain, and seized the firearms, ammunition and automobile. Further investigation showed that Nwankwoala had bought five of the pistols and 12 of the shotguns.
From August 2006 through August 2009, eight other shipments were made to Nigeria in an identical manner. Nwankwoala did not have the licenses or authorizations from the Department of State or the DOC to export the firearms and ammunition to Nigeria, nor did he possess a federal license to engage in the business of dealing in firearms.