Lawrence O. Kuteyi, a Nigerian student who authorities said was part of a narcotics importation ring, was convicted by a federal jury late Friday of conspiracy to distribute heroin.
Two defendants in the case, Doton K. Akinwale and Victor O. Vivour, also Nigerians, were acquitted.
The men were arrested along with six other Nigerian citizens in raids on New Year's Eve by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
During a five-day trial before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Richey, DEA agent Kenny Feldman testified that Kuteyi was arrested outside the Mayflower Hotel while delivering 28 ounces of heroin to Feldman and another undercover agent. Feldman said he previously had negotiated to buy the heroin from Kuteyi, and the jury heard tape recordings of their telephone conversations.
Kuteyi, who said he was a student at the University of Maryland, testified that he was encouraged by the agents to make the sale and was fearful that he would be harmed if he did not do so.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Knight told the jury of six men and six women that "Kuteyi was a man who couldn't wait to sell heroin."
After deliberating six hours, the jury also convicted Kuteyi of unlawful distribution of heroin, unlawful use of a communications facility and interstate travel to carry on unlawful activity.
The defendants who were acquitted, Akinwale, 23, and Vivour, 27, had been arrested later that night in an apartment where they lived with several others at 7000 Hanover Parkway in Greenbelt. DEA agents testified that they found about $26,000 in cash and a two-ounce bag of heroin in the apartment. A nine-ounce bag of heroin was found on the ground outside the apartment balcony, the agents said.
The men denied all the drug charges against them.
Shortly before the case was sent to the jury, the government dismissed charges against a fourth defendant, Tony Abiola. Earlier charges against four others had been dropped, and one person, Alexander A. Fadugba, pleaded guilty to a lesser conspiracy charge.
No sentencing date has been set for Kuteyi, 30, of Landover. He faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in jail and a $1 million fine.