FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2013
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY, SPECIAL NARCOTICS PROSECUTOR BRENNAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEYS VANCE AND HYNES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE COORDINATOR FEINBLATT ANNOUNCE LARGEST SEIZURE OF ILLEGAL GUNS IN CITY HISTORY
More than 250 Illegal Guns, Including Assault Rifles, Sold During Undercover NYPD Investigation
Gun Traffickers – Caught on Wiretap – Specifically Mention Stop, Question and Frisk as Posing Major Problem
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and Criminal Justice Coordinator and Mayor’s Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt today announced the largest seizure of illegal guns in city history. The undercover investigation, spearheaded by the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit and the Special Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, resulted in 254 illegal firearms being removed from city streets and the indictment of 19 individuals involved in gun trafficking from North and South Carolina into New York City. The weapons seized include high-capacity assault weapons, a fully automatic machine gun and handguns, which are most typically the models of guns used to commit violent crimes in the five boroughs. The defendants are charged with numerous counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Conspiracy and other related crimes. Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan, District Attorneys Vance and Hynes and Chief Policy Advisor Feinblatt were joined at the announcement by NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, III and Chief of the Organized Crime Control Bureau Thomas Purtell at One Police Plaza, where many of the illegally trafficked guns were displayed.
“New York is the safest big city in the nation, but year after year, illegal guns flow into our city from states that don’t have common-sense laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “There is no doubt that the seizure of these guns – the largest bust in the city’s history – has saved lives. For that reason, every New Yorker, in every part of our city, owes a debt of thanks to all those involved in this investigation.”
“Every day, New York City police officers must perform incredibly dangerous work to prevent guns from getting into criminal hands,” said Police Commissioner Kelly. “It is impossible to know exactly how many victims might have suffered had officers not identified and investigated these gun traffickers. But thanks to the undercover officer in this case and the efforts of the NYPD Firearms Investigations Unit and prosecutors, instead of being used in crimes, these guns are now out of commission.”
“Today we have charged criminal opportunists who sought to take advantage of the nation’s patchwork of conflicting gun regulation to line their own pockets and promote mayhem in New York City,” said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan. “Law enforcement agencies across many jurisdictions worked side by side to round up those who selfishly sought to promote their financial interests at great cost to our city residents.”
“Our number one job in law enforcement is to keep people safe,” said Manhattan District Attorney Vance. “But all too frequently, senseless gun violence is facilitated by traffickers who bring in firearms from other states. Any effective public safety strategy must include targeting these traffickers and taking illegal guns off city streets. As a result of this investigation, more than 200 guns that could have been used to maim, harm, and kill New Yorkers will now be out of circulation.”
“I want to commend Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and all the assembled authorities for participating in this operation,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Hynes. “This is a perfect example of how law enforcement agencies from varied jurisdictions working together can successfully combat the interstate shipment of deadly weapons. These guns serve no lawful purpose, they are a plague on our communities and those who profit from their illegal sales will face the stiffest penalties the law allows.”
“Today’s news is another example of how smart, proactive policing by the NYPD has helped dramatically increase the safety of New Yorkers in all five boroughs,” said Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt. “What remains abundantly clear, however, is what happens in other states can have lethal consequences on our streets too. That is why Mayors Against Illegal Guns – and more than 1,000 mayors and over 1.5 million supporters – are fighting for common-sense measures to address dangerously loose gun laws both at the Federal level and in states across the country.”
About the Undercover Investigation
Firearms seized in the undercover investigation range from .22 caliber pistols to assault weapons. Among the guns sold were a fully automatic Cobray 9 millimeter machine gun with a 30-round high-capacity magazine, three Intertec 9 assault pistols with flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines holding 30 or more rounds, a SCCY Industries 9 millimeter handgun and a Norinco SKS 7.62 x 39 millimeter assault rifle.
Of the 19 individuals charged in the indictment, 16 were apprehended in New York City, North Carolina and South Carolina in a series of arrests that began on August 2nd. The remaining three were already in custody on unrelated charges. Using court-authorized wiretaps, investigators identified the gun sellers in North and South Carolina attempting to supply guns for the purpose of re-selling the weapons in New York City. The investigation also revealed that the defendants recognized New York’s pro-active policing tactics made selling weapons in the city more difficult:
“Yeah I’m in Charlotte now. I can’t leave until you come, cause I can’t take them [guns] to my house, to my side of town cause I’m in Brownsville. So we got like, whatchamacallit, stop and frisk.” – Defendant Earl Campbell.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly thanked Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan; Manhattan District Attorneys Vance and Hynes; the undercover detectives of the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit; and all of the local, State and Federal agencies that assisted with the investigation, including law enforcement personnel in North Carolina and South Carolina who helped make arrests in their jurisdictions.
Illegal, Out-of-State Guns Used in New York City Crimes
According to the most recent available gun trace data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the percentage of out-of-state guns used in crimes in New York City has been increasing in recent years. In 2009, 85 percent of crime guns came from out-of-state. In 2010, that proportion was 86 percent, and in 2011, 90 percent of crime guns came from outside the State of New York.
More than half of the weapons recovered in today’s seizure were funneled from North Carolina, with the remainder brought into New York City from South Carolina. Both states still have weak laws that allow criminals and traffickers to easily obtain guns, such as not requiring lost or stolen guns to be reported to law enforcement. In addition, they are both major sources of guns found at crime scenes in the five boroughs – in 2011, North and South Carolina ranked second and third, respectively, in the list of top out-of-state for illegal firearms recovered and traced in New York City.
Last year, New York City had the fewest murders and shooting incidents since comparable records were kept and is on pace to break those records this year. Despite the ongoing drop in violence, the flow of out-of-state guns into the city demonstrates the need to stem thousands of illegal guns from crossing state lines and why weak gun laws – both at the local and Federal level – should be addressed.
Marc La Vorgna / Kamran Mumtaz (212) 788-2958
John J. McCarthy (NYPD) (646) 610-6700
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