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Effort to stop gun smuggling to New York City snares two

Weapons confiscated in a gun trafficking case are

Weapons confiscated in a gun trafficking case are displayed as NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton speaks about the case at One Police Plaza Thursday, April 3, 2014. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Two suspected gun traffickers were charged Thursday in Manhattan with selling more than three dozen firearms and high-capacity magazines to undercover detectives -- the latest push by authorities to shut down the "Iron Pipeline" of weapons smuggled from the South to New York City.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday in Manhattan Criminal Court, Javon "Black" Burgess, 36, of the Bronx and Paul "Gangsta" Lee, 24, of Brooklyn and the Bronx, sold a total of 39 guns, as well as ammunition and magazines, to the undercover officers between February and December 2013.

Some of the sales Burgess allegedly made of guns from South Carolina took place near the entrance to the Bronx Zoo, authorities said. Lee is accused of selling weapons either in East Harlem or near Co-op City in the Bronx, officials said.

The firearms recovered by investigators included a Tec-9 and AP-9 assault weapons, semi-automatic pistols and a sawed-off shotgun. Authorities said the weapons ranged in price from $550 to $1,000.

Burgess was already in custody on Rikers Island for an unrelated gun case when the charges were announced, said a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Lee was arrested in the current case on March 20, the spokeswoman said.

"The market, sadly for most of these weapons, is kids," said Vance at a news conference announcing the charges.

Vance said the victims of the weapons are often children. He cited the killing of Tayshana Murphy, 18, a promising basketball player, who was shot dead on Sept. 11, 2011, in the stairway of her apartment building in what appeared to be a gang turf fight. A defendant was recently convicted of her killing, Vance said.

The indictment charged Burgess and Lee with multiple counts of criminal sale of a firearm, conspiracy and criminal possession of a weapon, officials said.

Lee was ordered held Thursday without bail, according to Vance's office. His defense attorney John O'Connell couldn't be reached. Burgess had not been arraigned as of late Thursday, said officials. NYPD's firearms investigation unit and Vance's violent criminal enterprise unit joined forces in the probe.

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