Eric Nana Kofi Ampong Coker, 41, of Columbia, pleaded guilty Thursday to the illegal export of firearms, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland news release.
Since 2017, Ampong Coker has purchased at least 81 firearms from three separate Maryland Federal Firearms Licenses and in 2019 received Regulated Firearms Collector, which waived the restriction on the number of firearms he could purchase during a 30-day period, according to the release.
As detailed in the plea agreement, investigators also determined that before 2021 Ampong Coker had shipped passenger vehicles to Ghana.
In May 2021, federal agents surveilled Ampong Coker as he retrieved firearms, 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. Among other items seized in his luggage were foam cutouts used for packaging and securing firearms in gun cases.
In June 2021, federal agents identified a shipping container scheduled to depart the Port of Baltimore for Tema, Ghana. Included in the listed contents of the container was a 2018 Toyota Corolla registered to Ampong Coker.
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Agents then searched the contents of the shipping container. Within the trunk of the Corolla, which had Ampong Coker’s name on the cardboard on top of the vehicle, the agents found a gray suitcase. Secreted in the lining of the suitcase, agents found five 9 mm handguns previously purchased by Ampong Coker.
Law enforcement authorities identified another shipping container bound for Ghana containing other vehicles associated with Ampong Coker, according to the release.
The vessel on which this container was loaded sailed from the Port of Baltimore in May 2021, was intercepted at sea on June 14, 2021, and returned to Baltimore on August 20, 2021, without having been offloaded in Ghana or any other port. On August 25, 2021, this container was searched, revealing six 9 mm handguns and 16 9 mm pistol magazines 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, according to the news release.
Ampong Coker faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for illegally exporting firearms. U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher has scheduled sentencing for Sept. 6.