TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced a new round of indictments charging 51 defendants with illegally trafficking or possessing 67 guns under an aggressive initiative to target gun violence.
Under the initiative launched last year, the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice are targeting gun violence in New Jersey through strategic investigations focused on seizing existing weapons in violent areas, disrupting the supply-chain of weapons trafficking into those areas, and prosecuting criminals involved in the illegal sale and possession of weapons.
A total of 122 defendants have been indicted in connection with 181 illegal guns since the initiative began in May 2012. Since the start of 2013, a total of 65 defendants have been indicted in connection with 94 guns, including the latest round of indictments, obtained in the two weeks from Sept. 16 to 30, which charge 51 defendants in connection with 67 guns. Last year, 57 defendants were indicted in connection with 87 guns.
The latest indictments charge numerous defendants who were allegedly trafficking assault rifles and other illegal guns to gang members and criminals in New Jersey. Most of the defendants are subject to the strict sentencing requirements of the Graves Act, stipulating mandatory terms of parole ineligibility of up to five years. The cases include “Operation Ohio,” in which 11 men from Ohio and New Jersey were charged with selling 18 guns on the streets of Newark and Irvington as part of a conspiracy to illegally traffic guns, including assault rifles, into New Jersey from Ohio.
“We are targeting those who rip apart communities by peddling murder and mayhem,” said Hoffman. “We’ve bought back nearly 16,000 guns across New Jersey to ensure that unwanted guns don’t find their way into this black market. With these focused investigations, we also are taking back illegally trafficked guns that are the most likely to be used in violent crimes.”
“There are entirely too many illegal guns on the streets and in the hands of dangerous criminals, and we will continue to do everything in our power to take those guns back and to send those criminals to prison,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to partner with the State Police to utilize New Jersey’s tough gun laws, and to send a clear message: if you illegally traffic or possess guns in New Jersey, you will go to prison.”
“There are no drive-by punchings. No innocent children are struck through the walls of their homes by a stray bat aimed at someone else. A carelessly wielded knife could not injure multiple people on the other side of the playground. Only guns used by criminals make such dangers reality. These seizures and arrests represent a true reduction of guns in the hands of those who would use them to do harm,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Among the indictments announced today:
- Eleven men were indicted in connection with an alleged conspiracy to illegally traffic guns, including assault rifles, into New Jersey from Ohio and sell them on street. They allegedly sold 18 guns in Newark and Irvington between October 2012 and January 2013, including two assault rifles, eight handguns, three shotguns and five rifles.
- Raymond Rivera, 40, of Monmouth Junction, faces charges including unlawful possession and sale of a rifle, and possessing a gun as a convicted felon. Rivera allegedly illegally sold a rifle in New Brunswick in July 2012. He faces five to 10 years in prison, including five years of parole ineligibility if convicted of possessing a gun as a felon.
- Waleed Thomas, 39, of Perth Amboy, was indicted on charges of unlawful possession and sale of a handgun, and he and Roscoe Holloway, 46, of Camden, were charged in the indictment with conspiracy to sell a shotgun. Thomas faces five to 10 years in prison on the handgun possession charge, while the two defendants face three to five years on the conspiracy charge. Thomas allegedly sold a handgun in December 2011 in Perth Amboy, and Thomas and Holloway allegedly sold a pistol-grip 12 gauge shotgun in January 2012 in Newark.
- John Muyeka, 38, of Sayreville, faces charges including conspiracy, unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful sale of a handgun and sale of a defaced firearm. He allegedly sold a defaced handgun in Irvington in August 2012. He faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted of the possession charge.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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