22 Virginia Residents, Many with Gang Ties, Indicted for Gun Trafficking; Weapons Purchased in Virginia to be sold on the Streets of Brooklyn

 

217 Firearms, Including 41 Assault Weapons, Purchased During Course of Investigation

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that 24 individuals — 22 of whom are residents of Virginia — have been charged in a 627-count indictment with weapons offenses and conspiracy for trafficking guns purchased in Virginia to be sold on the streets of Brooklyn.

Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In this unique case, we charged more defendants and recovered more firearms than in any other case in Brooklyn’s history. We will go wherever we must, including other states, to continue fighting the scourge of firearms trafficking. We will not rest until every individual allegedly importing illegal guns into our borough – and with them death and violence – has seen their names on an indictment like this one.”

“The illegal firearms sold during this investigation amount to a sizable arsenal,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. When twenty-four individuals can readily engage in interstate trafficking of 217 handguns, rifles and assault-type weapons, this nation has a serious gun-control problem.”

“Over and over again, New York City finds itself the final destination for illegal firearms. Too often our citizens become victims of the associated gun violence. Our investigators and prosecutors will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for trafficking in illegal guns, wherever they are.”

The Acting District Attorney said that the defendants, many of whom are allegedly associated with Bloods gangs in Virginia and Brooklyn, allegedly used proceeds from the gun sales to fund a lavish lifestyle, purchasing drugs, jewelry, clothing, and sneakers, in addition to sending money to jailed associates. In court ordered wiretaps, the defendants are allegedly heard labeling themselves traffickers and mocking Virginia’s weak gun laws.

The Acting District Attorney identified the leaders of the conspiracy as Damian King, a.k.a. Havoc, Jacquan Spencer, a.k.a. Madcat, and Levar Shelborne, a.k.a. Wavy Boy. The defendants have been variously charged in a 627-count indictment with first-, second-, and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree conspiracy, and other related charges. The defendants were arrested last week, most in Virginia, and are being arraigned this week and last before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Harrington. (See defendant addendum).

The Acting District Attorney said the indictment is the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Unit and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Between June 2016 and February 2017 the defendants allegedly conspired to sell guns purchased in Virginia to a purchaser in Brooklyn. The investigation included the use of electronic communications intercepted pursuant to court order, as well as physical and video surveillance. The weapons recovered during the course of the investigation include assault weapons such as AK-47s, AR-15s, Thomson Industries (a.k.a. Tommy guns), Mossberg 715Ts, and MAC-10s. The handguns include a .45 caliber Desert Eagle 1911, Glocks with extended ammunition magazines and 50 round ammunition drums, and handguns of various calibers including .45 caliber, .40 caliber, .380 caliber, and 9mm.

It is alleged that one arm of the criminal organization operated in the area of Henrico and Richmond Counties, while the other arm of the conspiracy operated in the cities of Hampton and Newport News. The individuals comprising each arm of the conspiracy received direction from higher ranking members from each geographic area, who coordinated and organized the joint firearms trafficking operation between the two areas.

The indictment charges 10 of the defendants, including King, Spencer, and Shelborne, with bringing anywhere from two to 12 guns at a time, to Brooklyn or Manhattan from Virginia. The defendants allegedly travelled by automobile or took the bus to travel to New York with the firearms and meet the purchaser to complete the sale. Other defendants are accused as so-called ‘straw purchasers,’ individuals who, while legally entitled to purchase firearms under Virginia law, allegedly did so in this case only in order to give them to other defendants for illegal resale.

According to the investigation, the sales took place at various locations in Brooklyn, including in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Sunset Park, and Boerum Hill. The firearms and ammunition were sold at a significant profit. The purchaser paid on average between $800 and $1,200 per hand gun and approximately $1,800 to $2,200 for the assault weapons.

It is also alleged that Spencer was aided in Brooklyn by Aaron Perry, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and that he acted in concert in the alleged trafficking of weapons including allegedly acting as a lookout during a number of transactions. Perry allowed Spencer to stay at his residence, and to conduct at least eight transactions there.

The Acting District Attorney said that prosecutors assigned to his Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, working with detectives from the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Unit, have taken almost 1,000 guns off Brooklyn streets since VCE was created in 2014.

The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Erik Hirsch and Daniel Grandstaff, under the supervision of Sergeants Donald Morgan and Alexander Lago, Lieutenant Michael Jennings, Captain Jonathan Korabel, and Deputy Inspector Brian Gill and the overall supervision of Assistant Chief James Essig of the Gun Violence Suppression Division.

The Acting District Attorney thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the United States Marshals Service for their assistance in this matter, as well as the Henrico and Richmond Police Departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Kowell and Jared Mogil, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Sennett, Deputy Chief for Special Investigations and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, VCE Bureau Chief and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of Investigations and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.

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