New York

‘We will find you’: Queens DA, NYPD bust man with arsenal of ghost guns, issue warning to smugglers and sellers


Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and the New York Police Department announce their fourth ghost gun bust within the past few months — and they had a blunt message for anyone who dared to buy or smuggle these phantom firearms into town.

“If you think you can get away with bringing gun parts into our borough, we will find you, we will prosecute you, we will dismantle the polymer pipeline,” Katz said while standing above a table overflowing with confiscated firearms on Oct. 21.

Officials showcase a handgun that can be transformed into an assault rifle. Photo by Dean Moses

The District Attorney’s office laid handguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, and 32,000 rounds of ammunition bare on Thursday afternoon.

This arsenal that could have supplied a small army was retrieved from one man alone: 36-year-old Jonathan Santos, a resident of Richmond Hill. Charged with multiple counts of criminal possession, criminal sale of a firearm, and more, he is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

There were 21 firearms, a bullet proof vest, as well as bags of bullets filled to the brim. Photo by Dean Moses

Although the guns are off the streets, Katz pointed out another serious cause for concern. Many of the firearms retrieved are “ghost guns,” meaning that they are made up of a series of individual components that, when combined, make a weapon with no serial number. For a few dollars, any individual — including those legally barred from owning firearms, such as certain ex-felons — can buy a ghost gun kit and make a lethal weapon of their own.

“My office is working in partnership with the NYPD to take these tools of death off our streets and hold accountable those who seek to profit by selling them,” Katz said.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz holds up a ghost gun. Photo by Dean Moses

Thanks to these removable and attachable parts, handguns can be transformed into automatic rifles by simply slotting them into other components. This means sellers can profit from distributing mere ingredients that can be mixed and matched, leading to the trade of these ghost guns being dubbed the polymer pipeline.

“I call it the polymer pipeline because a crucial component of these ghost guns is made of durable polymer plastic,” Katz said.

Each of these weapons can be sold in pieces without serial numbers, allowing buyers to customize a deadly machine. Photo by Dean Moses

Santos resides at 102nd Street in Richmond Hill and was arraigned on Oct. 20 on a 251-count complaint after 31 firearms, several of which were ghost guns. Police also seized 110 high-capacity magazines and three silencers from his possession.

The District Attorney’s office affirms that Santos does not have a license to own firearms in New York City.

While surveying Santos on Oct. 18, investigators allegedly observed placing a long-gun into the trunk of his Chrysler 300. Soon after, detectives were granted permission to search his home, where they found even more illegal guns.

Members of the NYPD joined Queens District Attorney Katz to announce a ghost gun takedown. Photo by Dean Moses
Dean Moses
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