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US Army Major convicted for smuggling guns to Ghana disguised as rice and home goods

Gunner

A United States Army Major, Kojo Owusu Dartey, has been found guilty by a federal jury on multiple charges related to smuggling firearms to Ghana concealed within blue barrels of rice and household goods. The 42-year-old officer, currently stationed at Fort Liberty, faces a maximum sentence of 240 months, scheduled to be pronounced on July 23, 2024.

The conviction follows a joint effort between US law enforcement agencies and Ghanaian authorities, shedding light on an international arms trafficking operation. Dartey was charged with dealing in firearms without a license, delivering firearms without notice to the carrier, smuggling goods from the US, illegally exporting firearms without a license, making false statements to a US agency, making false declarations before the court, and conspiracy.

US Attorney Michael Easley expressed gratitude for the collaboration with Ghanaian officials, highlighting the role of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the International Cooperation Unit Office of the Attorney-General of Ghana in the investigation. He also acknowledged the support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attachés in Accra, and the US Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

Toni M. Crosby, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Baltimore Field Division, emphasized the impact of firearms trafficking on public safety and commended the joint investigation that prevented firearms from reaching criminal hands.

Court records and trial evidence revealed that between June 28 and July 2, 2021, Dartey acquired seven firearms in Fort Liberty and directed a US Army Staff Sergeant at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to purchase three firearms for him. These firearms, including handguns, an AR15, 50-round magazines, suppressors, and a combat shotgun, were concealed in blue barrels along with rice and household items and shipped from the Port of Baltimore to the Port of Tema in Ghana.

The Ghana Revenue Authority recovered the firearms and reported the seizure to the DEA attaché in Ghana and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division.  At the same time, Dartey was a witness in the trial of U.S. v. Agyapong. A case that involved a 16-defendant marriage fraud scheme between soldiers on Fort Liberty and foreign nationals from Ghana that Dartey had tipped off officials to. In preparation for the trial, Dartey lied to federal law enforcement about his sexual relationship with a defence witness and lied on the stand and under oath about the relationship.

The Ghana Revenue Authority intercepted the firearms, triggering an international response involving US agencies. Simultaneously, Dartey was involved in another trial as a witness, where he misled law enforcement about personal matters and lied under oath about a relationship, leading to additional charges.

The case was investigated by the ATF, Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, with prosecution led by Assistant US Attorney Gabriel J. Diaz, supported by technical expertise from David Ryan of the DOJ Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The verdict was accepted by Chief US District Judge Richard E. Myers II.

By: Kweku Zurek

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