Investigators announced Monday morning the arrests of 19 people who were allegedly part of a major gun trafficking ring that brought the illegal weapons to the city via Chinatown-bound buses. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
Tec-9s and assault rifles powerful enough to pierce police body armor were just some of the 254 guns taken off the streets in a massive bust.
Arrests in the bust were announced Monday.
"There is no doubt that the seizure of these guns has saved lives, and for that reason, I believe every New Yorker, in every part of our city, owes a great debt of thanks to those involved in this investigation," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Police say the guns were smuggled into the city by two distinct operations. They say that one was run out of North Carolina, while the other was run out of South Carolina, two states with significantly more lax gun laws. They allegedly shared the same Brooklyn based dealer, identified as Omole Adaji.
Nineteen people in all were arrested.
"We wanted to prevent the armed robberies, rapes at gunpoint, shootings or worse," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The sting started as a narcotics operation, and eventually, one undercover New York City police officer made most of the purchases, a few weapons at a time.
The deals were done in cars near Chrystie and Grand Streets in Manhattan and outside a rap studio on Atlantic Avenue in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn. Police say the smugglers brought the guns to New York in their luggage on commercial buses.
"A dozen defendants coming back from the Carolinas to face gun trafficking charges have discovered they cannot hide behind another state's gun laws when they know the firearms they supply are destined to be distributed here," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
One of the defendants posted pictures of guns and money on Instagram.
The mayor and police commissioner also added a political note. They cited a conversation that they say was intercepted in which one of the defendants said it wasn't safe to do business in Brownsville because of stop-and-frisk.
"Common sense says that if you run a risk of getting stopped, you're going to pay more attention to what's in your pocket," Bloomberg said.
The various defendants face a slew of gun-related charges, some of which carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison.