Cops, DA Close Bronx Zoo Gun Shop
BRONX, YORK, APRIL 4- Gun dealers, who set up shop near the entrance to the Bronx Zoo, were indicted on weapons charges stemming from sales to undercover cops.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Police Department Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the indictments of Javon Burgess, a/k/a “Black,” 36, and Paul Lee, a/k/a “Gangsta,” 24, for selling 39 illegal guns, ammunition, and large capacity magazines to undercover police detectives posing as Manhattan-based gun dealers. Burgess is charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a firearm in the first, second, and third Degrees, criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees, and conspiracy in the fourth degree. Lee is charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a firearm in the first and third degrees, criminal possession of a weapon in the second and third degrees, and conspiracy in the fourth degree.
“Gun violence continues to be a serious problem for our city’s teens – kids are buying guns, kids are using guns, and kids are dying from guns,” said District Attorney Vance. “Just two days ago, my office secured a conviction against Robert Cartagena for fatally shooting Tayshana ‘Chicken’ Murphy, an 18-year-old star of her high school basketball team. Any crime prevention effort has to include stopping gun traffickers from giving young people easy access to dangerous weapons. My office’s increased focus on fighting gun violence, as well the excellent work of the NYPD, has allowed us to bring far more gun trafficking cases in recent years. Since the creation of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit of the DA’s Office in 2010, our prosecutors have secured 25 convictions for criminal sale of a firearm in the fFirst or second degree. This is an increase from two convictions on these charges during the previous four-year period – a increase of 1,150 percent.”
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “These indictments underscore the proliferation of illegal firearms that stretch from the south to our city, thus creating the ‘Iron Pipeline’ and the community gun tactic used by criminals. Today’s cases are indicative of how criminals traffic firearms that are eventually used against young children, members of law enforcement and the community. Stopping gun violence and the illegal distribution of firearms is a focal point that will require continued collaboration with our law enforcement partners to bring criminals like these to justice. I would like to thank the NYPD Firearm’s Investigations Unit and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their relentless efforts in this investigation.”
According to the indictment, from approximately February 2013 to September 2013, Burgess sold 26 operable guns, as well as ammunition and large capacity magazines, to an undercover police detective. The firearms, which he sold for approximately $1,000 per weapon, included a Tec-9 assault weapon and other semi-automatic pistols. Burgess is accused of selling many of these weapons in broad daylight, with five of the sales taking place near the entrance of the Bronx Zoo. The defendant obtained these guns in South Carolina, and requested that the undercover detective send payment to him in South Carolina for one of the sales through a Western Union money transfer.
In a separate case, according to the indictment, from approximately May 2013 to December 2013, Lee sold 13 operable guns to another undercover police detective. The weapons, which he sold for $550 to $900 per gun, included a sawed-off shotgun and an AP-9 assault weapon. Lee sold the weapons to the undercover detective either in East Harlem or near Co-op City in the Bronx, with some of the sales occurring in broad daylight.
The investigations were conducted jointly by the Manhattan DA’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit (VCEU) and the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit. Since its formation in 2010, the VCEU has brought 19 indictments against 57 gun traffickers and recovered more than 875 illegal guns.