DOWNTOWN BROOLYN — Law enforcement busted a gun trafficking ring shipping weapons to the city on the Chinatown bus, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced at a press conference Wednesday.
Eight defendants — four from Brooklyn, two from Georgia and two, yet to be extradited from Pennsylvania — were charged in a 541-count indictment for conspiracy, criminal sale of a weapon and other related crimes for shuttling assault weapons, rifles and pistols.
Michael Bassier, 31, toted the weapons from Atlanta to NY during a dozen trips on Chinatown bus lines including the Canal Street-based Bus2NYC, as well as other Chinatown buses, the DA said.
He also made at least a half dozen trips by car to bring the weapons to NY from Pittsburgh, Thompson added.
He sold 112 guns to an undercover police officer over the course of a year from Sept. 2014 - Sept. 2015, most of the sales taking place in a Walgreens parking lot in Canarsie, Thompson said.
He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. His defense attorney did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Thompson said other recent gun smuggling operations made use of planes and cars, and the buses themselves were not to blame.
“I don't want to sort of dog the Chinatown buses," he said. "This is not about the Chinatown buses, this is about these guns."
Calls to Bus2NYC, where a one-way ticket to Atlanta costs $35, were not immediately returned.
Prosecutors released a conversation about the trafficking, taped as part of their wiretap investigation, between Bassier and an ex-girlfriend, they said:
This is the third such trafficking scheme busted in the last year, Thompson said, a result of lax gun laws in other states that perpetuate the black market.
Nine out of 10 guns used in city crimes come from out-of-state, he said.
“The problem is we have states that seem to not care about where these guns end up,” Thompson said.