Kojo Owusu Dartey, an Army major assigned to Fort Liberty, N.C., was found guilty by a federal jury for smuggling guns in rice barrels to Ghana.

Kojo Owusu Dartey, an Army major assigned to Fort Liberty, N.C., was found guilty by a federal jury for smuggling guns in rice barrels to Ghana. (Ghana Revenue Authority via U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina)

A U.S. Army officer assigned to Fort Liberty was convicted of five charges related to trafficking firearms overseas, according to the Justice Department.

Maj. Kojo Owusu Dartey, 42, smuggled nine pistols, a shotgun and a rifle inside barrels filled with rice and innocuous household goods headed to Ghana, DOJ officials said in a statement Monday.

A federal court jury in North Carolina found Dartey guilty April 23 of dealing in firearms without a license, delivering firearms without notice to the carrier, smuggling goods from the United States, illegally exporting firearms without a license and conspiracy.

“Through a partnership with Ghanaian officials, this rogue Army Major was convicted at trial,” U.S attorney Michael Easley said in a statement Monday. 

Dartey purchased seven firearms in the summer of 2021 in the Fort Liberty area from pawn shops and a military exchange store, an indictment filed in U.S. district court in Wilmington said, which said he is also known by the nickname “Killa K.”

He conspired with a U.S. Army staff sergeant at Fort Campbell, Ky., named George Archer, who bought three Glock 19 pistols from an Army exchange before shipping them to North Carolina, the indictment said.

Dartey hid all the firearms, as well as 50-round magazines and suppressors, in barrels, prosecutors said. He then paid $300 for someone to bring the barrels onto a container ship from Baltimore to Tema, Ghana, where authorities found the weapons and alerted American agents, the indictment said.

Dartey also was convicted of two charges related to lying to authorities about a separate case involving a marriage fraud scheme. Prosecutors said Dartey tipped off police on a 16-person ring involving soldiers at Fort Liberty and citizens from Ghana.

The case led to the conviction of Samuel Manu Agyapong, a soldier assigned to 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, on visa and marriage fraud charges in 2022.

The jury decided Dartey lied to law enforcement and in court about not having an extramarital affair with one of the witnesses in the trial.

Dartey was acquitted on five counts of lying to gun stores while purchasing weapons, and on one charge that accused him of impeding justice on the marriage fraud scheme trial.

He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and is due for sentencing July 23.

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J.P. Lawrence reports on the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He served in the U.S. Army from 2008 to 2017. He graduated from Columbia Journalism School and Bard College and is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines.

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