THE BRONX — A gun dealer hawked firearms to undercover police officers just steps from the Bronx Zoo — among the more than two dozen weapons he sold to investigators in a matter of months, police and prosecutors announced Thursday.
Javon Burgess, 36, of The Bronx, allegedly sold 26 guns, ammunition and high-capacity magazines to an undercover detective over a seven-month span last year. Five of the transactions took place near one of the zoo’s entrances, police said.
NYPD Inspector John Burke, the commanding officer of the Firearms Investigation Unit, who helped lead the investigation, said that officers were careful about performing the stings.
“We try to do them off hours when the public is not around, primarily nighttime hours," he said. "We go to places where there’s a very low likelihood of children or pedestrians being there.
“But, in some situations, if the seller is adamant about staying in one location, we will go there.”
Burgess insisted on doing the deals at the Southern Boulevard and 187th Street next to the zoo, police said.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the accused gun dealer initially purchased the weapons in South Carolina and turned them around for almost double the price.
Most of the weapons, including a sawed off shotgun, Tec-9, and other semi-automatic weapons, were sold in broad daylight.
Burgess, who goes by the nickname “Black,” was charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a firearm, weapons possession and conspiracy.
Police also arrested Paul Lee, 24, of Brooklyn, who allegedly sold 13 guns, including a sawed-off shotgun and an AP-9 assault weapon, to an undercover detective in East Harlem and near Co-op City last year.
Lee, nicknamed “Gangsta,” faces the same charges as Burgess.
“My office and the NYPD have zero tolerance for illegal guns in our communities,” Manhattan DA Cy Vance said. “We will do everything we can to take them off the streets.”
Bratton said that while the busts were another step in reducing the number of illegal guns in the city, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“The ability to find and purchase a weapon is still too easy,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to shut down.”
Burgess and Lee were awaiting arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court Thursday afternoon.