Five men arrested over the past several weeks were part of a "gun trafficking network" that has been part of a Suffolk police and district attorney's undercover operation for 10 months, officials said yesterday.
Arrested were Darren Scales, 24, of Mastic; Rondell Holland, 22, Arnold Garrison, 22, and Terrance Shorter, 18, all of Bellport; and Raymond Rivera, 22, of Patchogue, officials said. In all, 15 guns, all but one loaded, were bought or seized during the investigation.
Scales was arrested in jail on Feb. 26, after having been arrested as the alleged leader of a car wheel rim burglary gang known as "the rim reapers," officials said.
"Illegal guns are wreaking havoc on our communities here in Suffolk County," said District Attorney Thomas Spota, adding he has heard similar complaints from other law enforcement officials across the state.
Spota, flanked by Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), pointed to 10 violent gun-related crimes committed Friday to Sunday, including a homicide of a 23-year-old Wyandanch man, a brutal home invasion in Bay Shore, gunpoint gas station robberies in East Setauket and East Northport, and a gunfight in Wyandanch. A terrified couple with a 2-year-old was caught in the middle of the Wyandanch shootout; four spent bullets were found in their car.
Dormer called gun violence a top priority, saying the operation was a "full court press on the bad guys."
A single illegal gun can be used to commit much violence, said Spota, who noted a .357 magnum confiscated last year was traced to a triple homicide in New Jersey, a homicide in Washington, D.C., and another in Virginia. Investigators will ask the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help trace the origins of the guns confiscated in the recent operation.
The work by police and district attorney investigators, under the auspices of the Gun Suppression Team and Special Investigations Bureau Gang Unit, was funded by a $245,000 grant secured by Bishop in the 2009 appropriations bill.