Authorities have busted four Brooklyn men for operating a gun trafficking ring that allegedly included a former Delta Air Lines employee concealing handguns and assault weapons in carry-on luggage on commercial flights between Kennedy Airport and Atlanta.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced indictments against the men Tuesday and called the scheme, in which they sold the illegal firearms in New York City, an "egregious breach in our nation's airport security. I hope this is a wake-up call for our nation."
Charged in a 591-count indictment with various felony conspiracy and weapons charges were Mark Henry, 45, of Canarsie; Ernest Leneau, 54, of Canarsie; Adrian Alleyne, 24, of Canarsie; and Grayling Smith, 51, of Crown Heights. Henry and Smith also have residences in Georgia.
"It is simply unthinkable that anyone would breach the security of our nation's airports to smuggle guns and ammunition, including assault weapons, on commercial airliners and jeopardize countless lives all to make money," said Thompson.
From May to December, authorities said, Henry, a former Delta ramp agent, made 17 trips with guns and ammunition on commercial airline flights between New York and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta -- the nation's busiest airport.
Henry, who was able to take unlimited flights for a nominal fee using his mother's employee privileges, got the weapons aboard planes with help from a current Delta ramp agent, Eugene Harvey, 31, of College Park, Georgia, authorities said.
Harvey, who, as an employee, was not required to go through airport security, would meet Henry -- after Henry cleared airport security -- and exchange the weapons for money.
Henry bought the guns in Georgia, where Thompson said gun laws are lax and firearms are cheap. Detectives in Brooklyn bought 153 guns -- sold at markups of up to 200 percent -- including AK-47 assault rifles and Glock pistols. The guns were sold at prices between $650 to about $5,600, officials said.
Leneau then took the guns and sold them to an undercover detective, authorities said. Additionally, Alleyne purchased guns from Leneau and sold them to an undercover and Smith supplied two guns to Leneau, authorities said.
Investigators at first were unsure how the men were transporting the firearms, but authorities learned on Dec. 10, using airport video surveillance, that Henry was getting onto flights to traffic the guns.
Henry was arrested on Dec. 10 after he flew on a Delta flight from Atlanta to JFK with a bag containing 16 guns and ammunition and magazines, authorities said.
A Delta Air Lines spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment. A representative for the Atlanta airport said in an email that safety and security is their "highest priority," adding, "In light of these recent events, we are reviewing the security plan and will make the appropriate changes to prevent future incidents of this nature."
The defendants, except for Smith, have been arraigned and are being held on bonds ranging from $1.5 million to $250,000. Smith is awaiting extradition from Georgia. Harvey is facing gun charges in Georgia and was ordered held on a $25,000 bail.