Two Manhattanites indicted on firearms charges

(Pexels/Somchai Kongkamsri)

Two Manhattan residents were indicted in the New York State Supreme Court on Friday after the two were allegedly found to be manufacturing “ghost guns” in their Hamilton Heights apartment, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office.

Francisco Martinez, 38, and Maria Ovalles, 29, were charged with multiple counts including Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Criminal Sale of a Firearm. The two had been manufacturing “ghost guns” in their apartment, the DA said, assembling them in their apartment using parts ordered online.

“Ghost guns are no longer an abstract, looming threat,” Vance said. “They are here, and we need federal regulation to stop them.”

NYPD officers responded to a ShotSpotter report on the roof of a West 153rd Street apartment building on June 26, according to court documents, where they discovered 10 nine-millimeter cartridge casings on the roof of the West 153rd Street apartment building.

Surveillance footage showed Martinez climbing the steps to the roof of the building with at least one visible firearm. Police arrested he and Ovalles the next morning as they left their apartment.

A search of the apartment that evening uncovered eight semiautomatic pistols and two imitation pistols, along with two hundred rounds of ammunition. NYPD investigators found that none of the firearms were marked with serial numbers, and all had been assembled using parts ordered separately online. Police also found build kits and gun manufacturing parts.

Ballistics analysis matched the casings uncovered on the roof to three of the firearms found in the apartment.

“Ghost guns,” usually assembled from kits or parts ordered separately online, are usually untraceable, as they lack serial numbers. Kits can be ordered online without a background check, meaning those who may not be able to purchase a gun in New York State still have easy access to firearms.

Vance, a co-founder of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, has called on the federal government to crack down on ghost guns, speaking out in support of a proposed Justice Department rule that would force manufacturers to include serial numbers on 3D printed gun parts and run background checks before selling the kits.

“At the same time, Congress should settle this issue once and for all by modernizing the Undetectable Firearms Act with requirements, similar to the DOJ’s new proposed rule, that 3-D printed guns and unfinished frames, receivers, and component parts have serial numbers and that individuals possess a license to manufacture or assemble these weapons,” Vance said in a statement.