A Coon Rapids man has been convicted of illegally shipping handguns he bought at gun shows in Minnesota to his home country of Liberia for security forces to use in the western African nation.

A federal jury in Minneapolis on Thursday convicted McHarding D. Galimah, 38, of smuggling firearms. Galimah faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

According to prosecutors:

Galimah bought 12 handguns from the Madden Group, a Minnetonka-based federally licensed firearms dealer, at various gun shows in the state. They included seven 9-millimeter handguns, and all the required paperwork was filed by the seller.

In November 2010 and July 2011, Galimah exported those weapons to Liberia and made several trips to that country to take possession of the weapons to resell at a profit.

At no time did he possess a license to transport the firearms, as legally required. Even so, federal regulations ban firearms from being exported to Liberia.

A government court filing in the case said that Galimah acknowledged to federal investigators that he bought the guns for "friends in security forces" who requested them and did not know that shipping firearms to Liberia was illegal.

He also said that he knew the guns would be seized if discovered during transport by U.S. customs officials. He added that he did not declare the guns at the time of shipment in order to avoid paying duties and taxes.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482