4 gun smugglers charged in New York, in the state’s first trial under the bipartisan gun safety law passed in June


Four gun dealers have been charged with illegally selling more than 50 firearms in Brooklyn, law enforcement officials announced at a news conference Wednesday, in the first trial in New York state under a bipartisan gun safety law enacted last June.

The federal law, known as the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, includes a gun trafficking provision that creates a stand-alone conspiracy offense of gun trafficking, which New York prosecutors have used to charge arms smugglers. The law also provides for severe penalties of up to 15 years in prison for such crimes.

“Gun trafficking prosecutions prior to the bipartisan enactment of the Safer Communities Act were based on laws related to the unlicensed sale, transportation, and delivery of firearms, and false statements made to firearms dealers. Using the new law on charges today, we can simplify those prosecutions by charging conspiracy Firearms trafficking as a standalone federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Bryon Pace.

“As the first trial to use this legislation in New York and one of the first in the country, we are showing that we are willing to use all the tools at our disposal, new and old, to combat gun violence,” Pace said.

A seven-count indictment was unsealed in court, charging David McCann, Tajay Jones, Raymond Minaya and Calvin Tabron with conspiracy to traffic in more than 50 illegal firearms.

Prosecutors allege that there were numerous illegal firearm purchases between January 2022 and August 2022, with the guns being sold during the day from vehicles in and around the Brooklyn housing projects.

Two members of the arms smuggling operation obtained the firearms in Virginia and transported them to New York for sale in Brooklyn, prosecutors said in a news release. Some of the firearms allegedly had mutilated serial numbers while others were made from ghost gun kits, the statement said.

The group allegedly sold the weapons to an undercover New York Police Department officer who recorded many of the transactions. Prosecutors said the undercover officer told the group he was a drug dealer and needed the guns, with the intent of reselling some of the weapons.

Prosecutors said the weapons recovered were traced back to several shootings in Brooklyn, including one in which eight people were shot at a family celebration in Brooklyn in April 2022.

Pace said McCann, Jones, Minaya and Tabron were arrested Wednesday morning.

McCann and Minaya were also charged with conspiracy to distribute the cocaine base and possession with intent to distribute it. Prosecutors said McCann was also charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl.

McCann and Minaya are scheduled to stand trial Wednesday afternoon.

Jones and Tapron are due to stand trial in Virginia. They will hold hearings on their arrest on Friday.

Minaya’s lawyer declined to comment. McCann’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tabron is represented by Federal Public Defenders, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jones will be assigned an attorney under the Criminal Justice Act, according to an EDNY spokesperson.

This latest arrest is considered one of the first cases in which the law was used.

Last September, a 25-year-old US citizen living in Mexico was charged in connection with smuggling firearms from Texas into Mexico. It is believed that he was the first person charged with a portion of the Safer Communities Act known as the Stop Unlawful Firearms Trafficking Act, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office from the Southern District of Texas.

The 25-year-old smuggler was caught driving south on Interstate 35 heading to a port in Laredo, Texas, when he was caught with 17 guns in his car, according to Justice Department officials. In all, investigators said, he purchased 231 weapons.

The bipartisan bill, signed into law by President Biden in June 2022, was the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades and a major bipartisan breakthrough on one of Washington’s most contentious policy issues.

The legislation came together in the wake of mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood.

Pace said on Wednesday that the new law makes it easier to prosecute interstate gun trafficking cases.

Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney Brion Pace speaks during a press conference.

“We can now charge a fee for the firearms trade itself without the obligation to prove that someone was in the business of selling firearms and this is a big difference in the evidence and the evidence we have to provide,” said Salam, noting that the penalty is also increased. “Under other laws, the maximum penalties are likely to be five or ten years. Under this law, they would face up to 15 years.”

NYPD Commissioner Kishant Sewell also spoke about the influx of illegal weapons from neighboring states with more relaxed gun regulations, known as the “iron pipeline,” highlighting how police officers are killed in the line of duty with illegal weapons from other cities.

Sewell said that in December 2014, NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot while they were sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn. The gun was purchased from a pawn shop in Georgia before making its way to New York City, according to Sewell.

A year later, Officer Brian Moore was shot and killed in Queens with a firearm stolen from a pawn shop in Georgia, Sewell said.

Officers Wilbur Mora and Jason Rivera were killed last year while responding to a domestic incident with a gun stolen from Baltimore in 2017.

“Every day, NYPD officers, along with our partners, will continue to intercept, interrupt, investigate and hold criminals accountable,” Sewell said. “New Yorkers in every neighborhood must be freed from the fear and misery of gun violence.”

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