The New York Post is reporting this morning that the New York State Attorney General and the NYPD have busted an illegal gun ring that used Chinatown buses to transport firearms from Florida:
Investigators… seized 70 automatic pistols and revolvers from the traffickers over the past three months, law enforcement sources said. The traffickers had purchased the weapons from Orlando, Florida, gun shows before transporting them in luggage compartments of Chinatown buses to the Big Apple, sources said. New York authorities got wind of the gun ring and launched an investigation several months ago, sources said. In the past two months, undercover officers made more than 30 gun purchases from the traffickers in Brooklyn, sources said. Detectives were in the process of rounding up eight suspects early Wednesday morning, sources said. The perpetrators were expected to be arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court later today.
More to come. A news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.
UPDATED 3:10 p.m. State AG Eric Schneiderman made the 196-count indictment public today. As a result of “Operation Midnight Run,” the AG said, “eight members of the ring were charged… with numerous counts of conspiracy, criminal possession and criminal sale of firearms.” The gun-running organization was Brooklyn-based but the operation had a Chinatown connection. More from the Attorney General’s press release:
Between May and November of this year, the two ringleaders and other defendants made several trips from New York City to Florida. (Defendant Natasha) Harris and others, including a Florida-based straw-buyer, would allegedly purchase multiple guns from multiple shows. The ring would then transport the weapons back to New York primarily by stowing them beneath commercial buses – including the Star Line bus company – bound for Manhattan’s Chinatown, according to the indictment. For example, as alleged in documents made public today, the investigation revealed that on October 24th, Harris drove from Brooklyn to Florida. Over the next two days, she and some of her co-defendants (along with Harris’s grandmother and two young children) attended the Orlando Gun Show and Bunnell Gun Show, purchasing several guns at each show. On the afternoon of October 26th, Harris and Octavio Batista met the ring’s female courier at the Orlando Bus Depot (5144 West Colonial Drive, Orlando) and placed a purple suitcase full of firearms they’d purchased in the luggage compartment of an overnight Star Line bus #9597, headed to Chinatown (95 Canal Street, Manhattan). The courier then boarded the bus. On the morning of October 27th, the New Jersey State Police, working in coordination with ‘Midnight Run’ investigators, stopped the bus at the New Jersey Turnpike’s Joyce Kilmer rest area (in East Brunswick, N.J.) and seized the purple suitcase, which contained 33 firearms.
You can read the full release here.