Three men, including two from Suffolk County, were arraigned Thursday on a 438-count indictment for allegedly running a gun trafficking operation featuring the sale of untraceable ghost guns in New York.
Devon Smith-Martin, 26, and Fritz Pierre-Louis, 46, both of West Babylon, and Hakeem Solomon, 26, of Sumter, South Carolina, are facing counts of criminal sale of a firearm, criminal sale of a ghost gun, criminal possession of a weapon, and conspiracy.
They allegedly participated in the illegal gun trafficking operation that included assault weapons, machine guns and semi-automatic pistols, the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in a news release on Thursday.
“I will not allow our streets to be flooded with ghost guns, assault rifles, or other weapons of war,” James said in a statement. “Giving criminals easy access to illegal and untraceable guns is a threat to all New Yorkers and a danger that my office will not tolerate."
Smith-Martin and Pierre-Louis were ordered held without bail at their arraignments in Queens County Court Thursday. Court information for Solomon was not immediately available.
Attorneys for the three defendants could not be immediately reached.
Authorities recovered 57 illegal firearms, 51 of which were ghost guns, as part of the investigation dubbed “Operation Ghost Runner.”
It began about six months ago and included hundreds of hours of physical and covert surveillance and the court-ordered wiretapping of numerous phones. Authorities said the gun trafficking operation illegally sold 47 firearms, including illegal ghost guns that don’t have serial numbers and are therefore untraceable
Smith-Martin and Pierre-Louis allegedly ordered ghost gun components and accessories from out-of-state online firearm retailers, prosecutors said, and Smith-Martin then trafficked the firearm components and accessories to New York for assembly and sale.
Authorities said they have recovered 38 9 mm semi-automatic pistols, nine 5.56 mm semiautomatic AR-15-style assault weapons, two .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols, one .45-caliber revolver,18 firearms outfitted with rapid-fire modification devices that make them fully automatic machine guns, 46 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices including one 100-round drum magazine, three silencers and more than 800 rounds of ammunition.
While executing a search warrant Thursday at the homes of Smith-Martin and Pierre-Louis and at the Queens job of Pierre-Louis, authorities said they recovered ghost guns and the tools to make them.
These included three Polymer 80 9 mm ghost guns, including one equipped with a rapid-fire modification device, and numerous high-capacity magazines, including ones designed for AR-15 assault rifles and silencers. Authorities said the tools also included firearm component parts, including to build AR-15s and 9 mm guns. ”
The investigation was conducted by the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is composed of agents and officers from the New York City Police Department, New York State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Today’s charges show that some criminals believe they can operate with impunity, in plain sight — the NYPD and our law enforcement partners exist to shatter that notion,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement.