Brooklyn Park man guilty of international gun smuggling

Brooklyn Park man guilty of international gun smuggling

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A federal jury has found a 51-year-old Brooklyn Park man guilty of international gun smuggling -- and the way he shipped guns from Minneapolis to Africa sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.

The investigation began a couple of years ago after federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discovered 7 gun purchases made within a few days of each other. Soon after, Homeland Security learned their suspect was dabbling in unlicensed international exports. Yet, even federal agents were surprised at the elaborate lengths he went to in order to ship guns some 6,000 miles away.

Shariff Mohammed is a home health care provider who recently became a naturalized U.S. citizen -- but prosecutors said he also had a side job as an international arms smuggler. In court, prosecutors said Mohammed bought 17 handguns at 3 gun stores in the Twin Cities and then shipped them to his native Nigeria.

MORE: List of 17 guns, points of purchase

Mohammed did an awful lot to conceal the weapons, too. Police say he hid them in old cars -- including a 1990 Mercury that he shipped by train from Minneapolis to New York. The car was then sent by ship to Valencia, Spain. Finally, it arrived in Lagos, Nigeria.

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When asked what he intended to do with all the guns, Mohammed testified that he wanted to use them to protect his home in Nigeria. He also testified that he was a captain in the Nigerian Army, and that his son is at the Nigerian equivalent of West Point. His defense attorneys also claimed that Mohammed told the gun stores about his intentions, but at least half a dozen employees at Bill's Gun Store testified that he never said a word.

The shipment was addressed to an "Army Sports Camp" and a Capt. So Mohammed. Prosecutors say there is no evidence the guns were headed to the terror group Boko Haram. In the end, jurors convicted him of gun smuggling and making false statements during the purchase of a firearm. He is now out on bail, but he did not answer the door when Fox 9 News stopped by. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled, but Mohammed faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count. Jurors convicted him of one count of smuggling goods and 17 counts of providing false statements during the purchase of a firearm.

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