Four Virginia men smuggled guns from their state to New York City, selling 86 firearms at an average of $1,000 each to an undercover detective posing as a firearms dealer, authorities said.
Ringleader Clive Dixon, 28, and his three suppliers were busted as part of an investigation by the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into the “iron pipeline” of guns coming from states with looser gun sale laws than New York, officials said.
The suspects coordinated sales over the phone and through text and Facebook messages, prosecutors said. Dixon, sometimes accompanied by his accomplices. sold the guns and ammunition to the undercover investigator in Manhattan and the Bronx in 15 deals between March 28 and November 17, officials said.
They were caught with the help of court-authorized wiretaps and social media analysis, officials said.
Dixon, of Virginia Beach, and Antonio Williams, 27, of Chesterfield, were arraigned Monday in Manhattan on fourth-degree conspiracy and various counts of criminal sale of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon. They were held without bail.
Teal Arnold Holt Jr., 27, and Emmanuel Dentmond, 22, both of Virginia Beach, were also indicted on those charges but were awaiting extradiction, prosecutors said.
Dixon’s attorney, Glenn Hardy of Garden City, said his client pleaded not guilty and is a rapper, known as Moe Chetta, who has helped get water to residents of Flint, Michigan, and donated money from his shows to anti-cancer causes.
“The charges show just one side,” Hardy said. “He’s a complicated man.”
Williams’ attorney could not be immediately reached Monday evening.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the case highlights the need to pass the gun kingpin bill in the state legislature.
Currently, anyone who sells 10 guns gets the same penalty as someone convicted of selling 10,000 guns - at least five years in prison - but the bill calls for 15-years-to-life in prison for those convicted of selling at least 20 guns.