NYPD undercover detectives made the single largest illegal gun buy in New York City history with the breakup of a Georgia-to-Brooklyn trafficking ring that attempted to bring scores of firearms into the city, officials said Wednesday.
The seven-month joint investigation by police and the Brooklyn district attorney's office, dubbed "Operation Lucky 7," nabbed a married couple from Georgia and four suspected associates. They were charged with assorted illegal firearms possession and conspiracy counts in a nearly 600-count indictment.
Investigators were tipped off to the ring by "community members" in the Canarsie section, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said at a news conference. The bust was the latest to target what authorities call the "iron pipeline" for gun smuggling from Southern states. In one purchase detectives acquired 25 handguns from the suspects, the largest single undercover buy in NYPD history, said Bratton. The previous record was 16 weapons, he noted.
Most of the 155 firearms purchased with $126,000 in special buy money were handguns, although police also netted a few automatic weapons and a military-style AR-15, Bratton said.
The arrest and seizures come at a time when shootings have increased in the last month citywide, according to NYPD statistics. Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said that so far this year there have been 128 shooting incidents in his borough, close to half of the 266 incidents recorded for the entire city by the NYPD as of Sunday.
Thompson didn't give comparable statistics for last year.
Singled out by Bratton as a ringleader of the smuggling network was Michael Brewer Quick, 42, of La Grange, Georgia, and also of Staten Island. Quick allegedly conspired with his wife, Aliyah Camille Dowell, also 42, and two uncles to amass firearms in Georgia -- some of which had been stolen -- and move them by car up the I-95 corridor to Canarsie, police said. Undercover detectives often made the purchases at the corner of Foster Avenue and East 96th Street, police said.