New York City

NYC ghost gun trafficking ring busted

March 16, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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CITYWIDE — Attorney General Letitia James, Mayor Eric Adams and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force announced on Wednesday the dismantling of a significant firearm and drug trafficking operation responsible for illegally selling ghost guns, assault weapons, and drugs in New York City and Westchester County.

A 123-count indictment charges Eduardo Hernandez, Jose Garcia, and Euclides Castillo with trafficking 19 firearms, including 12 ghost guns, six high-capacity magazines, and more than 560 grams of cocaine, with an estimated street value of around $25,000.

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The 16-month joint investigation, conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes agents and officers from the New York City Police Department (NYPD), New York State Police (NYSP), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), revealed that the defendants trafficked firearms from Massachusetts to New York for illegal sales. The operation resulted in the recovery of 19 firearms, including 12 ghost guns, six high-capacity magazines, and significant amounts of narcotics.

“Guns are one of the greatest threats to public safety, and we must do all we can to stop the flow of these weapons into our communities.” Attorney General Letitia James said.

Mayor Adams highlighted the dangers posed by ghost guns, saying they “endanger New Yorkers and carve highways of death in our communities.” He also called on the ATF to revoke the federal firearms license of Polymer80, a major source of ghost gun components. Adams praised the law enforcement efforts that have led to the seizure of 8,500 illegal guns, including over 540 ghost guns, since he took office.

The investigation found that Hernandez, Castillo, and Garcia collaborated to traffic firearms from an undisclosed location in Massachusetts to New York, where they were sold illegally.

The defendants sold illegal firearms, including loaded assault-style ghost guns, at Hernandez’s residence in Queens, and Garcia made sales from a location in Port Chester. Castillo, a former Smith & Wesson assembly division employee, provided buyers with instructions on how to operate the purchased firearms.

In addition to the firearms, Hernandez also sold more than 560 grams of cocaine. The takedown is part of a broader effort by Attorney General James to combat illegal gun trafficking and narcotics distribution in New York through the OCTF and the Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (SURGE) Initiative, a law enforcement effort targeting New York’s heroin, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks.

Since its launch in 2017, SURGE has taken 847 alleged traffickers off the streets, and Attorney General James has been instrumental in removing guns and firearm components from local communities and charging dangerous individuals for violating state laws.

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