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Iraqi National Charged with Gun Smuggling at Port of Savannah

firearms smuggled through the Port of Savannah
Nine firearms seized from a shipment at Port of Savannah (U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia)

By The Maritime Executive 03-18-2021 10:25:00

An Iraqi national was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Savannah on charges related to an attempt to smuggle firearms through the Port of Savannah to Iraq. The suspect, Nihad Al Jaberi, is facing 10 years in prison on charges of smuggling, failure to notify a common carrier, and submitting false or misleading export information.

“The Port of Savannah is exceptionally valuable to the coastal region, and the high volume of traffic presents an ongoing challenge to law enforcement agencies enforcing import-export laws,” said David Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Customs and Border Protection officers perform outstanding work in interdicting illegal shipments and maintaining border security.”

The firearms were discovered disassembled along with used auto parts in a container at the Port of Savannah. As described in court documents and testimony, Al Jaberi is charged with attempting to export three handguns and six .308-caliber long-range rifles in August 2020. The guns were hidden in a shipment listed as “71 Pieces of Spare Auto Parts with No License Required.” The indictment alleges that he obtained the guns through “straw purchases” at various Atlanta-area sporting goods stores.

“This weapons seizure clearly illustrates how closely Customs and Border Protection inspects export manifests and identifies anomalies that could potentially harm others,” said Henry DeBlock, Area Port Director for CBP Savannah.  

Al Jaberi, an Iraqi citizen and legal permanent resident of the United States, was arraigned on March 15. He remains in jail awaiting trial.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security and by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.