Police Grab Guns Smuggled From the South in East Harlem Sting

William Bratton
Photo: Seth Wenig/AP/Corbis

A seven-man gun-smuggling ring was indicted in Manhattan’s district attorney’s office on Tuesday after undercover cops purchased 89 illegal weapons from the men in East and West Harlem. Forty-two transactions — including handguns, assault rifles, and shotguns — netted the crew $52,000. 

The sales were conducted brazenly, in broad daylight, not far from the East River Houses where Officer Randolph Holder was killed while pursuing his alleged shooter, Tyrone Howard. One smuggler, Samuel Barreto, 24, sold 39 weapons to just one cop, including six assault rifles. 

A majority of the weapons were brought up the so-called “iron pipeline.” Purchased in southern states, where lax gun laws make for hassle-free gun shopping, and then smuggled into cities, the guns can be sold at a substantial markup. This flow of weapons shows no signs of ceasing, NYPD commissioner William Bratton says. “We have a spigot that’s wide open down there, and we don’t have a national or local ability to shut that spigot down at the moment.”

The New York Post reports that the weapon used to kill Holder, a .40-caliber semiautomatic Glock, was purchased in South Carolina by a law-enforcement officer four years ago. The officer would go on to report the gun missing. The weapon’s journey ended this past Monday, when divers pulled it from the East River

The May killing of Officer Brian Moore and the December double murder of two officers sitting in their patrol car were carried out by weapons stolen in Georgia. 

It still amazes me of the insanity of the United States Congress, that they just don’t get it,” Bratton said at the indictment announcement on Tuesday. “And I don’t know why they don’t get it, other than that they basically are constantly down there with their hands out to the NRA, looking for more and more money, and it’s just insanity.”

Police Bust Gun-Smuggling Ring in East Harlem