The New York Police Department has announced their largest gun bust in the history of the city.
The bust resulted in the confiscation of 254 guns. Investigators estimate that the guns have a street value of around $200,000.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to the weapons as “a lot of firepower” during a press conference today. Most of the guns were large caliber pistols and military weapons that had been modified to improve accuracy and avoid detection.
The 264-page NYPD indictment report says that 19 people from two gangs brought the guns into the city. The guns were purchased from dealers in North and South Carolina. Gang members told undercover police that they bought the guns for cheap in the Carolina’s where restrictions are low so that they could bring the guns to New York City and sell them for a large profit.
The bust gives outsiders a look at the “iron pipeline” of New York City – the routes that underground smugglers have used for years to bring guns into the city for illegal sales.
The indictment cited the smuggling processes of two specific men – Earl Campbell of South Carolina and Walter Walkford of North Carolina – that undercover investigators bought a handful of guns from. The men would typically purchase guns either from fellow smugglers or from legal dealers by using a fake identity. After purchasing the guns, the men would pack them into suitcases and ride up to New York City using a discount bus carrier.
At one point, an undercover detective recorded a conversation with Campbell in which he complained that new gun restrictions forced him to pay different people to buy guns for him.
“The problem is that the gun laws passed now, so it's like now I can only buy a gun from a gun store every 30 days," Campbell said. “So I had to… pay different people to keep buying different guns.”
Bloomberg, who said that “There is no doubt that the seizure of these guns saved lives”, was joined by NYPD Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan at today’s press conference.
“Perhaps the two most disturbing aspects of the gun-trafficking operation were the simplicity of the business model, and the complete indifference of the gun suppliers to the mayhem their actions would cause here in New York City," Brennan said. "The marketing strategy was buy low, sell high and keep a low profile."