U.S. pizza shop owner sentenced for unlawfully exporting firearms and accessories to Pakistan

BALTIMORE, Maryland: Kamran Ashfaq Malik, 35, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz on Monday to two years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for unlawfully exporting semi-automatic rifles, parts and accessories to Pakistan.

Malik owned and operated a pizza shop in Upper Marlboro, and maintained a second residence in Lahore, Pakistan. Co-defendant Waleeb Aftab worked at the pizza shop. According to Malik’s plea agreement, between September and October 2012, Malik purchased, or caused to be purchased, approximately 48 AR-15 100 round dual drum magazines from various firearms and related accessories dealers. In order to take advantage of the lack of magazine capacity restrictions in Virginia, some of the purchases were made by Malik under the name, address and bank account of an associate. In other instances Malik provided a false commercial shipping address in Springfield, Virginia.

“Exporting restricted items, such as firearms and firearm components, without the permission of the U.S. government is a crime,” said Ivan Arvelo, acting special agent in charge, Baltimore, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Stopping the illegal export of firearms, arms components and other sensitive military technology is a high priority for HSI.” Acting Special Agent in Charge Arvelo added, “We will continue to pursue those who would break export law in order to prevent terrorist groups and others from illegally obtaining military products and sensitive technology from the United States.”

Between October and November 2012, Malik shipped or caused Aftab and others to ship, several illegal shipments of firearms and firearms parts and accessories to Lahore, Pakistan. In order to conceal the unlawful export of defense items, which are controlled for export, Malik placed false return addresses and names on the packages, as well as falsely identified the contents of the packages, and falsely declared the contents to be of nominal value. Malik directed Aftab to do the same.

On November 28, 2012, during a routine airport security screening in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one of the packages was found to contain firearm parts and accessories that are prohibited from export to Pakistan without an export license. The items found included: two lower receivers of a semi-automatic rifle, two rifle bolt carriers, rounds of magazines, an optical gun sight and an LED rail mounted flashlight with laser. The defendants never obtained the required licenses to export such items.

On March 7, 2013, after arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport from Pakistan, Malik’s cell phone and laptop computer were subjected to a border search. Malik’s cell phone contained pictures of AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles and magazines, in some cases in the hands of individuals. The pictures were taken at locations near his residences in Pakistan and Maryland. A text message was also found on Malik’s phone that referenced the tracking number of the shipment detained in Dubai.

On March 6, 2014, Malik dropped off a package for shipment to Pakistan. Malik provided a false address and falsely identified the contents as “screw holders and metal screws.” HSI Special Agent in Charge Baltimore agents intercepted the package, which was found to contain 28 .223 caliber bolt carriers. Those items are regulated for export. Malik never sought nor obtained a valid export license for those items.

Malik received numerous export warnings regarding the export restrictions on firearms and related accessories. A notice of these export restrictions were contained on the firearms transaction records for various weapons purchased by Malik between 2012 and 2013, including the purchase of the Colt M-4 whose lower receiver was confiscated in Dubai. In addition, the shipping invoice receipts for the various shipments to Pakistan completed by Malik, or Aftab acting at his direction, contained an export notice and signature block for the shipper certifying that the identifying information for the package was accurate and that it was being shipped in accordance with U.S. export regulations.

Co-defendant Waleed Aftab, age 23, also of Upper Marlboro, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to time served of one year.