(CN) – A man from the Ivory Coast has been arrested and charged with trying to ship 4,000 guns, 50,000 tear gas grenades and 200,000 rounds of ammunition to his home country. Nguessan Yao, 55, is charged in Manhattan Federal Court with criminal conspiracy to export weapons without a license.
Prosecutors say they learned of the plot in 2009. The United Nations has barred export of weapons of war to the Ivory Coast.
Yao’s co-conspirators deposited $1.9 million into a U.S. government-controlled undercover bank account in April 2009, as a 50 percent down payment for the weapons, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint. Ivory Coast underwent a civil war from 2002 to 2007.
Undercover agents met with Yao and two other Ivorians on Aug. 30 this year in New York, and the agents informed them that the deal was illegal, prosecutors said. The next day the agents showed Yao and his cohorts 500 Glock pistols, 1,000 tear gas grenades and 100,000 rounds of ammunition in New Jersey, according to the affidavit.
Yao said they would need two invoices, one for the real stuff – the weapons – and a bogus one for water pumps or first aid kits, according to prosecutors.
On Sept. 9, the final payment of $1.9 million was sent to a government-controlled bank account in San Jose and Yao was arrested, prosecutors said. He faces up to 10 years in prison.