NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Eight people have been charged in a gun-running scheme to use cheap bus services to smuggle dozens of illegal guns across state lines into New York City.
The arrests were announced Wednesday by Brooklyn prosecutors. It was the latest in a series of cases aimed at stemming the steady flow of guns bought in states with lax gun-control laws for resale to criminals in New York.
Authorities say that over the past year, the alleged ringleader, Michael Bassier, 31, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, arranged the purchase of 112 guns in Atlanta and Pittsburgh and brought them to New York as a passenger on buses run out of Chinatown.
They say he sold all the weapons to an undercover NYPD officer. Many of the sales took place in a Walgreens parking lot in Canarsie.
District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said the weapons ranged from handguns to an AR-15 assault rifle.
“This can shoot through a bulletproof vest or an apartment door,” he told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
Thompson expressed frustration over the bigger picture, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“There’s different federal statutes that can be used, but there’s no real federal statute that deals with this gun trafficking,” Thompson said.
Guns bought legally in places outside of New York for $150 could sell on the black market for upwards of $800.
Thompson said he plans more investigations that cast a wider net to snare people beyond Brooklyn’s borders.
Bus companies are urged to be more vigilent but some regular riders doubt there will be much of a change, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“If anyone to expects the bus operator to take that responsibility and that overhead then its not going to happen,” Chinatown resident Chris Herity said.
The 541-count indictment charges the defendants with offenses such as conspiracy, criminal sale of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon. The indictment included 541 counts.
If convicted, Bassier faces up to 25 years in prison on the top count.
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