A new age of gun crime: NYPD bust Brooklynite who 3D printed firearms

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Inspector Courtney Nilan showcases the lower receiver of a 3D printed firearm.
Photo by Dean Moses

The NYPD is warning that we have entered an age in which illegal guns can be printed at home.

Inspector Courtney Nilan, Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati, and Deputy Commissioner John Miller announced Wednesday the arrest of a Brooklyn man who had been allegedly 3D printing lower receivers. Cops say 30-year-old Deonte Haynes not only sold ghost guns, but he also used a 3D printer to make parts of them himself.

“Today, people can sit at home in their living room and log onto their computer, access a piece of software, send a signal to their printer, and print out a machine gun that can kill people. That’s a problem. We’re talking about ghost guns and the intersection of 3D printers,” Deputy Commissioner Miller said. 

Since 2019, the Intelligence Bureau has implemented a ghost gun team that goes after manufacturers, and their motto simply is: “If you build it, we will come.”

A 3D printer, riffle, and magazines recovered. Photo by Dean Moses

Deputy Commissioner Miller described the sheer ease of printing a weapon of mass destruction as a horrifying nightmare that has become a scourge upon New York City and the entire United States since they are untraceable and dangerous. These weapons have been found in numerous crime scenes throughout the metropolitan area.

In addition to printing the lower receivers, Haynes also produced large capacity magazines. However, with the higher receiver needing to be made of metal, Haynes also reportedly purchased gun parts online in order to complete the weapons. NYPD officials speculate that it only costs about $500 dollars to manufacture a 3D printed ghost gun, yet they are sold at about $1500.

This latest bust is a prime example of an ongoing battle to remove deadly and near untraceable weapons off the streets by cutting off their sources. After obtaining a subpoena to a manufacturer of ghost gun parts, the unit ascertained where and to whom the parts were being shipped to New York. It was through this diligent investigation detectives were able to map out who these individuals were and connect them to multiple shootings and crimes throughout New York City. 

Ammunition recovered by police. Photo by Dean Moses

In September 2021, a ghost gun was recovered after a man opened fire into a crowd of individuals as they left a nightclub. The following month, more ghost guns were recovered at a shooting in a recording studio when a number of individuals opened fire on each other.

“So, we are running into these at the point of manufacture in homes. We are seeing them at crime scenes collecting shell casings from them. We know we’re going to find more, and this is going to keep going,” Miller said. 

While police officials hope to spread awareness regarding this inexpensive and deadly weapon, it also comes with the caveat that criminals have also become more aware of the options to obtain the weapons.

Police officers also say they are now up against a new age of gun merchant, one that can be held up in any home or apartment.

Detectives point to a recovered firearm. Photo by Dean Moses

“The significance of Mr. Haynes’ arrest is that he was not only manufacturing ghost guns, but even more alarming, he was also manufacturing 3D printing of personally made firearms,” Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati said. 

In 2019, the NYPD recovered 47 ghost guns, the following year 150 were found, and as of 2021 the number of these weapons found has increased to 375.  Just three months into 2022, 85 ghost guns have been recovered. 

“That’s the 325% increase in seizures of ghost guns since last year; 3D printers used to manufacture firearms have been seen in different parts of the country, but now we’re seeing it in New York. In addition to producing the parts that build weapons, Mr. Haynes also produced large capacity magazines with his 3D printer and what’s called an auto sear or a Glock switch, which is used to turn a semi-automatic pistol into a fully loaded [machine gun,]” Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati said. 

Inspector Courtney Nilan shared that a search warrant was carried out on March 8, where their investigation found that Haynes was printing firearms, extended magazines that could hold up to 30 bullets, lower receivers, and more. He has been charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a weapon, possession of high-capacity magazines, as well as multiple counts of Administrative Code misdemeanors.

Detective John Uske holds up the 3D printed weapon. Photo by Dean Moses