Three Ghanaian cousins, Ahmed Taju Mutalib, Abdul Haruna, and Murtala Haruna, have been arrested in the United States of America (USA) with 109 illegal firearms and rifles allegedly smuggled from the Midwest through the “notorious Iron Pipeline” in New York City.
The illegal guns include 20 assault weapons and 139 high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, documents from the Queens County District Attorney revealed.
They have since been indicted by a grand jury on 575 counts of unlawful sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, conspiracy, and money laundering.
They each face up to 25 years in prison when found guilty of the charges.
Ahmed Taju Mutalib, 32, of Decatur, Georgia, is charged with five charges of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, four counts of first-degree illegal possession of a weapon, second-degree money laundering, fourth-degree conspiracy, and other crimes.
Abdul Haruna, 27, of the Bronx, New York, is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, two counts of first-degree illegal possession of a weapon, second-degree money laundering, fourth-degree conspiracy, and other felonies.
Murtala Haruna, 30, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, first-degree illegal possession of a weapon, second-degree money laundering, fourth-degree conspiracy, and other crimes.
According to the charges, police were alerted to the trafficking activity through a confidential tip to District Attorney Katz’s office and the NYPD in March 2023.
The court documents said five transactions took place in the parking lot of P.C. Richard & Son, 35-18 Steinway Street in Astoria, between the defendants and an undercover police officer following an initial investigation and intelligence gathering.
Mutalib sold 12 guns with respective unloaded magazines, as well as 10 large capacity magazines, on June 10, 2023. Abdul Haruna was present and counted the money during the transaction.
The court papers said on June 27, 2023, Mutalib sold 16 semi-automatic pistols with respective unloaded magazines, three rifles, one shotgun, and 900 rounds of 9 mm ammunition.
The US Attorneys narrated that On August 8, 2023, Abdul Haruna collected $4,000 in pre-recorded money from an undercover officer as an upfront payment towards the purchase of additional firearms.
They added that on August 14, Mutalib sold five rifles, 25 semi-automatic pistols with respective unloaded magazines and 20 large-capacity magazines.
“On August 26, Mutalib and Murtala Haruna sold five long guns, 30 semi-automatic pistols and 500 rounds of 9 mm ammunition,” they revealed.
In all, the undercover officer bought a total of 97 firearms, including 17 assault weapons from them.
The court papers said during the course of the investigation called Operation Chainline, the defendants were recorded discussing the purchase, transport and sale of multiple firearms.
Detectives witnessed defendants Murtala Haruna and Mutalib coming out of a Cincinnati townhouse carrying large boxes to a U-Haul truck, corresponding directly with subsequent calls regarding the transportation of guns for sale.
On September 8, the Attorneys said law enforcement officials tracked Murtala Haruna and Mutalib driving a rented vehicle with a Florida license plate through New Jersey into New York.
“When the defendants parked in Staten Island, search warrant was executed on the vehicle, resulting in the arrest of the two defendants and the recovery of 12 guns, including three assault weapons, 13 high-capacity magazines, 1,000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, and two sets of men’s clothing Backpack with financial documentation in Mutahb’s name,” Queens District Attorney, Melinda Katz, said.
According to her, defendant Abdul Haruna was arrested pursuant to the indictment on November 2.
He indicated that the joint investigation was conducted by the Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau of the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, along with New York City Police Department Detective, Alejandro Valderrama, with the assistance of Captain Jeffrey Heilig.
Others are Lieutenant Daniel Nocoletti, Detective Shaneil Mitchell, and Police Officer Masawudu Yakubu, all of the NYPD’s Firearms Suppression Section, under the supervision of NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Savino.
The court papers also said Assistant District Attorney Genevieve Gadaleta of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Jonathan Sennett, Bureau Chief, Michelle Goldstein, Senior Deputy Bureau Chief, Philip Anderson and Barry Frankenstein, Deputy Chiefs, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney of Investigations Gerard Brave.