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Press Release

Nonimmigrant visa holder sentenced for violating US gun laws

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON – A 26-year-old citizen of Niger has been sent to federal prison on firearms charges related to his status in the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

The jury deliberated for approximately one hour following a one-day trial before returning guilty verdicts March 14, 2023, against Moctar Ahmadou Gouroudja Ahmadou.

U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett has now ordered Ahmadou to serve 78 months in federal prison. He is also expected to lose his status in the country and face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence concerning his discussions with the individual associated with the attack on Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, about Ahmadou’s downloading of jihad videos including beheadings and that he discussed the possibility of traveling to Palestine to commit jihad. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Ahmadou had been invited to this country to study under a student visa and had violated that privilege.

“Moctar Ahmadou, like thousands every year, traveled to the United States under an F-1 visa in search of an American education,” said Hamdani. “But when he took that quest for knowledge to a gun range, picked up a gun, handled the ammo and fired it, he went from student to criminal. This sentence sends a strong message to those like Ahmadou--stay in the classroom and away from the gun range otherwise your American education will come not from a University but from the prison library.”

Even though Ahmadou was lawfully present in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, he violated the terms of that status by illegally using a firearm and ammunition.

Ahmadou entered the United States March 24, 2016, from Niger. At the time, he had a nonimmigrant F1 visa, or student visa, to study at the North American University in Stafford. Under that status, he was not permitted to possess or use firearms or ammunition. 

However, the jury heard that on or around May 17, 2021, Ahmadou participated in handling and firing a handgun at a Texas-based gun range. He purchased a course called “First Shot” which provided training on pistol shooting and range time. Immediately after completing the course, Ahmadou rented a Glock 45. He was seen at the firing line at the gun range holding a pistol and shooting down range towards a target.  

On May 18, 2021, Ahmadou returned to the same gun range to participate in handling and firing a rifle. The course consisted of firearms safety, manipulation and shooting a rifle. He also possessed and shot a Smith & Wesson, model MP15, .223 caliber rifle and purchased and possessed four boxes of Fiocchi .223 caliber ammunition which he used with the rifle.

Ahmadou has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI led the investigation with the assistance of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service; Homeland Security Investigations; Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Customs and Immigration Service; and Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Schammel and Richard Bennett prosecuted the case along with Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s Counter Terrorism Section.

Updated February 2, 2024

Firearms Offenses
National Security