District Attorney Brown and Commissioner Kelly with some of the guns and ammunition recovered in “Operation Ace in the Hole.”
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today that four individuals have been indicted in connection with an illegal firearms ring that sold approximately 30 handguns and other weapons and numerous rounds of ammunition to undercover police officers posing as black market buyers over a nine-month period. The price allegedly paid for each weapon ranged from $500 to $1,300 with most weapons typically going for about $1,000.
Police Commissioner Kelly said, “This case was about keeping New York safe. We are on course to end the year with a new record low in murders. One of the reasons is persistent attention to illegal guns, and getting them off the streets and out of criminal hands, and jailing the traffickers. The declining murder rate is one good sign. This case also highlights the problem of guns coming in from out of state. I want to commend the outstanding work by the Queens prosecutors and the NYPD detectives, including undercovers who engaged in the most dangerous task of buying guns from suspects, known to be armed.”
District Attorney Brown said, “These defendants brazenly attempted to flood the streets of New York City with weapons that were illegally moved up from the South along the so-called 'Iron Pipeline' - Interstate 95. These weapons typically wind up in the hands of criminals and pose a serious danger to all of our residents. The successful efforts of police and prosecutors working together in cases such as this to track down and prosecute gun traffickers has not only resulted in a significant reduction in the number of firearms on the streets of our city but in a record drop in murders - which continues to make New York City the safest big city in America.”
District Attorney Brown identified the defendants as Juan (Junior) Leon, 30, of 32-45 34th Street, in Astoria, Queens; Ainsley (Ace) Waddell, 36, of 393 Dumont Street in Brooklyn; and Corey Odle, 31, and Bryan Brown, 22, both of Newport News, Virginia.
The defendant Leon is charged in a 107-count indictment with various counts of first-, second-, and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; second- and third-degree criminal possession of a firearm; manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances; third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance; fourth-degree conspiracy; and unlawfully disposing of ammunition. The other three defendants - Waddell, Odle and Brown - are variously charged in a separate 28-count indictment with first-, second-, and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; second-degree criminal possession of a firearm; manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances; fourth-degree conspiracy; and unlawfully disposing of ammunition. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 25 years in prison.
Leon and Waddell are in custody and are expected to be arraigned this morning in Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens. Odle and Brown were arrested in Virginia and will either return to New York voluntarily or be extradited.
According to the District Attorney, the investigation, known as “Operation Ace in the Hole,” began in August 2008 when detectives assigned to the NYPD's Firearms Investigation Unit acquired information to the effect that the defendants were illegal gun merchants. Thereafter, detectives and prosecutors assigned to the District Attorney's Narcotics Investigations Bureau set up a “sting” operation that included the monitoring of telephone conversations among the defendants followed by face-to-face street transactions.
The indictments charge that the defendants sold a total of 30 weapons to undercover officers in Queens and Brooklyn between August 18, 2008 and April 29, 2009. A list of the weapons is annexed hereto.
The illicit transactions are alleged to have included:
The investigation, which is ongoing, was conducted by Detectives Charles Lennon and Gerald Breiner, of the Firearms Investigation Unit, under the supervision of Lieutenant Daniel Davin and Captain James Coan, and the overall supervision of Inspector Thomas F. DiRusso, Commanding Officer of the Firearms Suppression Division, and Chief Anthony J. Izzo, of the Organized Crime Control Bureau.
- October 6, 2008: Defendant Leon met with an undercover officer in Queens and sold a loaded 9mm Smith & Wesson and a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun.
- December 30, 2008: All of the defendants, acting in concert, met with an undercover officer in Brooklyn and sold eight weapons, including .32, .40. and .45 caliber and 9mm handguns.
- April 19, 2009: All of the defendants, acting in concert, met with an undercover officer in Brooklyn and sold two .40 caliber handguns.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Philip D. Anderson, of the District Attorney's Narcotics Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Wilbert J. LeMelle, Chief, and Karen J. Friedman, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigation Linda M. Cantoni.