Ten people were charged Tuesday in connection with the shipping of guns from Southern states into the Bronx and selling them to undercover police officers, officials said.
A total of 50 firearms, including an AK-47-style assault rife, were seized in the case — the latest effort by the NYPD and prosecutors to go after an illicit conduit for the trafficking of guns into the city known as the “Iron Pipeline.”
The defendants, who live in the Bronx, Texas, Georgia and Pennsylvania, were attempting to bring in an additional 30 guns before police pulled the plug on their operation, said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark.
The assault rifle seized in the case had actually been gift wrapped by the suspects when they delivered it to the undercover officers a week before last Christmas, Clark said.
“They saw such an instrument of death as a just an ordinary piece of merchandise,” Clark said. “This case shows yet again how guns purchased legally in other states can wind up on our streets in the hands of criminals.”
The investigation, dubbed “Straight Outta Highbridge,” in reference to an area of the Bronx, began about a year ago after detectives began investigating illegal gun-dealing networks in that neighborhood, she said. Police focused on two Bronx brothers, Marvin Guzman, 31, and Melwin Guzman, 24, as well as a relative in Pennsylvania, Clark said, and investigators then secured a court order for a wiretap in March.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the latest case is a result of the department’s effort to target gun dealers as part of its “precision policing” strategy. The action has led to a drop in shootings in the Bronx and the city overall, Boyce said.
“I don’t have to tell anybody what kind of carnage an AK-47 can create on the street as we have seen in the last couple weeks,” said Boyce, gesturing to the rifle on a table and referring to the mass shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Officials said none of the guns seized traced back to any violence but that four had been stolen. The Guzman brothers and most of the other suspects were charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, an offense that carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison, officials said. The defendants in custody were expected to be arraigned late Tuesday in Bronx Criminal Court.