Undercover sting nabs Brooklyn woman for gun and drug trafficking

June 14, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announces the guilty plea in the first case prosecuted under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which targets gun trafficking specifically. Photo: Peter K. Afriyie/AP
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A Brooklyn resident pleaded guilty in federal court to trafficking firearms and distributing fentanyl and cocaine base on Wednesday and faces up to 35 years in prison following an undercover sting operation.

Ariana Charles, 28, pleaded guilty in federal court to trafficking firearms and conspiring to distribute fentanyl and cocaine base. The plea was entered before United States District Judge William Kuntz. 

Charles was charged in January 2024 under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first federal law specifically targeting gun trafficking, enacted in June 2022. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the drug conspiracy and 15 years for firearms trafficking.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act expands background checks, broadens firearm restrictions, and establishes new criminal offenses related to gun trafficking and straw purchasing. It also funds and supports programs to improve mental health services, enhance school safety and address community gun violence. Additionally, the act designates certain federal buildings and post office facilities.

Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, along with DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarentino and NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban, announced the guilty plea.

“This office has made it a top priority to stop the illicit flow of firearms and drugs into our community, and today’s guilty plea is the result of those ongoing efforts,” stated U.S. Attorney Peace. “Gang members, felons and violent individuals who use deadly weapons to inflict irreparable harm on our community do not come into possession of these instruments of death out of thin air; instead, they rely on traffickers like this defendant, who must be held accountable for their role in the violence that results from the use of these weapons.”

According to court documents, Charles sold 18 firearms to an undercover officer in residential areas of Brooklyn, including the New York City Housing Authority’s Breukelen Houses, outside other apartment buildings, and in shopping center parking lots. 

The undercover officer had told Charles and her co-conspirators that he was a drug dealer needing guns to resell. Several guns sold by Charles were purchased in Virginia and Georgia and then transported to New York, including a firearm with a defaced serial number and several semi-automatic rifles.

Charles also sold crack cocaine and fentanyl to the undercover officer, some of which were disguised as Oxycodone pills.

Four of Charles’s co-conspirators are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiring to traffic firearms into Brooklyn.

In that case, those four individuals have pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic over 50 illegal firearms into Brooklyn, including semi-automatic handguns, ghost guns, and firearms with defaced serial numbers. 

On March 28, 2024, David Mccann and Calvin Tabron entered their pleas, with Mccann also pleading guilty to distributing fentanyl. Co-defendants Raymond Minaya and Tajhai Jones had previously pleaded guilty to the firearms trafficking charges earlier in March.

The defendants, David Mccann, Calvin Tabron, Raymond Minaya, and Tajhai Jones, conducted these illegal firearm sales in various public locations — including parks and parking lots — around Brooklyn’s Breukelen Houses complex. The firearms were acquired from Virginia and transported to New York, with some linked to multiple shootings in Brooklyn.

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