NEW YORK (AP/WRIC) — An undercover cop in New York City bought 217 assault weapons, tommy guns and handguns, dismantling a trafficking ring that exploited Virginia’s looser gun laws and sent sellers north on buses with bags full of weapons, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Traffickers were caught on wiretaps bragging about their ability buy guns for resale, authorities said. They used code words like “chopper” and “joint” to peddle the weapons, investigators said. Ammunition was “food.”
“There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store,” suspect Antwan Walker is heard saying on a police wiretap. “I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. I can do that Monday through Friday. … They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.”
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said 24 people were arrested, mostly in Virginia. One person was from Brooklyn, and one from Washington, D.C. They are charged in an indictment alleging a conspiracy to bring up to a dozen guns illegally into New York City at a time.
Walker, 21, and others were being held in Virginia awaiting extradition to New York, and it wasn’t clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges. Police and prosecutors say they arrested ringleaders, plus straw purchasers who bought guns to give them to other defendants for resale.
Here’s a list of those arrested:
- Dajon Yearty, 25, of Newport News, Virginia
- Dwayne Lamont Rawlings, 30, also known as “Ding Dong,” of Hampton, Virginia
- Jacquan Spencer, 22, also known as “Madcat,” of Hampton, Virginia
- Damian King, 27, also known as “Havoc,” of Bristow, Virginia
- Levar Shelborne, 29, also known as “Wavy Boy,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Antwan Walker, 21, also known as “Twan,” of Highland Springs, Virginia
- Tevin Richardson, 25, also known as “Stay-lo,” of Washington, D.C.
- Kenneth Threatts, 21, also known as “Trey,” of North Chesterfield, Virginia
- Renardo Maye, 20, also known as “Nardo,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Aaron Horowitz, 24, also known as “Gringo,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Aaron Perry, 22, of Brooklyn, New York
- Cameron Fobbs, 20, also known as “Bam” or “Bambino,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Clifford Perryman, 28, also known as “Nino,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Neftali Ramirez, 25, also known as “Doe Flacko,” of Woodbridge, Virginia
- Euneece Robinson, 28, of Richmond, Virginia
- Aaron Seabrook, 22, of Richmond, Virginia
- Corey Russell, 20, of Richmond, Virginia
- Naquan Trapp, 20, of Richmond, Virginia
- Chauncey Walker, 20, of Richmond, Virginia
- Walter Alston, 29, also known as “380,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Malyk Hawthorne, 21, also known as “Wink,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Michael Vordjorbe, 21, also known as “Stacks,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Antoine Smyre, 28, also known as “Fats Pomc,” of Richmond, Virginia
- Donald Houston, 27, also known as “Doozie,” of Richmond, Virginia
Most illegal guns in the nation’s largest city come via Southern states with laws that are less restrictive than New York’s. Gonzalez said that must be changed.
“I find this case truly, truly infuriating,” he said. “As so long as anybody continues to peddle death in our borough, we will continue this hard work … including beyond state lines.”
Prosecutors said the guns were bought in many different Brooklyn neighborhoods and were sold for up to $1,200 for a handgun and up to $2,200 for an assault weapon. Prosecutors said it was the largest number of guns purchased in one operation in Brooklyn.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill commended the effort.
“Over and over, New York City finds itself the final destination for illegal firearms,” he said.
In a statement, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said this case proves the need for tighter gun laws in the Commonwealth.
This is ridiculous. Virginia’s gun laws are so lax we now have gun runners on police tapes bragging about how many guns they can buy. It’s way past time for universal background checks and a reinstatement of Virginia’s “one handgun per month” law.
Governor Terry McAuliffe also weighed in on Twitter, sharing 8News’ story along with the following statement:
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.