NEW YORK – Authorities say they have busted an illegal gun smuggling ring that netted more 90 guns over a six month period.
The guns came from different states and were trafficked through the Bronx.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the arrests and indictments of nine alleged members and associates of the violent “Bloods” street gang on charges they operated a high-volume ring.
The weapons were allegedly purchased on New York City streets, but also in Port Chester, N.Y., Maine and Connecticut for resale in New York City by ring members.
Some of the guns bought in Port Chester, N.Y. and Stamford, Conn., were transported to the city on Metro North trains. The weapons were resold in New York City for several times their original price, authorities say.
As a result of the “Operation Redrum” investigation, based on the nickname of alleged ring leader William “Redrum” Soler, the gang members and associates were charged with felony conspiracy and criminal possession and criminal sale of firearms counts.
Soler was also charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, for allegedly plotting to kill a rival gang member.
If convicted, the lead defendants, Soler, Ronald Snyder Princesequan Hunter, and Cadeim Beckford, face up to 25 years in prison on the top count, Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First Degree. A tenth defendant, Erick Ransom, was separately indicted for the murder conspiracy. He also faces up to 25 years behind bars.
“These allegations lay out a disturbing, but all too familiar pattern of multistate gun trafficking and violence, with New York State in the crosshairs,” Attorney General Schneiderman said, “Working with the NYPD, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to stop the flow of illegal arms into New York, and prevent the deadly crimes that often result. I commend the brave officers and investigators that took part in Operation Redrum, and I promise all New Yorkers that we will prosecute each of the accused to the fullest extent of the law.”
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, “Make no mistake, illegal guns sold in our communities will eventually destroy someone’s family. The NYPD will continue to partner with the New York State Attorney General’s Office to target alleged gun runners and hold them responsible for their roles in the distribution of illegal firearms in our city. We are committed to saving lives.”
The investigation, led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit, began last summer. Among those indicted are alleged ring leaders Devon Fairburn, also known as “Burnz,” alleged to be the “GF,” which stands for Godfather, and William Soler, who goes by the names “Redrum” and “Wobbles,” and who allegedly together ran the East-coast faction of the Bloods known as “Redside.” The gang operates in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester County, parts of Maine, and elsewhere, court papers maintain.
According to the papers, after an undercover detective, posing as a gun reseller, purchased guns directly from Soler, electronic surveillance began being used to monitor the ring’s activities. The surveillance showed that ring members communicated regularly, often sending each other text messages that included photographs of guns for sale. The undercover officer purchased 93 guns from the ring in 47 separate face-to-face transactions inside two Bronx apartments. Various other defendants participated in the sales, by providing guns for resale, transporting guns and negotiating prices.