BROOKLYN — Six people from Georgia, including three veterans, sold 70 smuggled guns to the streets of Brooklyn that they'd gotten illegally as "straw buyers" at shops and gun shows, prosecutors said.
The defendants, whose ages range from 23 to 26, would pretend to purchase the guns for themselves between October 2015 and April 2016, but turn around and sell them over Facebook before off-loading them in Brooklyn, according to an indictment against them that was unsealed Wednesday.
"All too often, firearms brought into New York illegally end up in the hands of criminals and result in acts of violence," said the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers.
"We stand committed to stemming the flow of illegal firearms into our communities," Capers added.
Georgia has remained one of the highest exporters of illegal guns to New York state for the past several years, according to annual statistics released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In 2015, it delivered 401 to the Empire State, trailing only Virginia and Pennsylvania, which sent 441 and 412 respectively, ATF data show.
And Facebook has long been a popular forum for illegal gun sales, even after the site's administrators banned these exchanges, according to Forbes.
The nine-month scheme began on Oct. 3 when one of the defendants, Dominique Chanel Fairnot, 26, bought a gun from a licensed dealer, but lied on an ATF form that it was for herself, authorities said.
She and four others — Jeremy "Jermz" Sanchez, 26, Micah Isaiah Desuze, 24, Omar Jermaine Walker, 26, and Ashanti Sease-Matthews, 23 — did this 16 more times, federal prosecutors said. Desuze, Walker and Sease-Matthews are all veterans, authorities added.
They bought more than 70 guns in total, including Phoenix Arms .25 caliber pistols, Jimenez Arms .380 caliber pistols abd Jimenez Arms .22 caliber pistols, officials said. Three of the guns were also pink, they added.
In one instance, Desuze legally bought five Jimenez Arms .380 caliber pistols and one Jimenez Arms .22 caliber pistol from the Eastman Gun Show in Marietta, Georgia on Nov. 22, according to FBI Special Agent Ashley Trover.
Using Marquez "Tega" Bridges as a go-between, Desuze then sold the guns another co-conspirator, who wasn't immediately identified, but then started arranging sales over Facebook, Trover said.
Armed with a warrant, investigators were able to tap into the defendants' calls and Facebook conversations about the gun sales, according to investigators.
"I came to get some toys and leave then I'll be back on Thursday night for you momma good cooking if it's ok with you," the co-conspirator told one potential buyer over Facebook.
"I don't play money games bro," he added.
By Dec. 1, the co-conspirator was in Brooklyn, setting up another sale over Facebook, prosecutors said.
"Home I have two hammers loaded I have my homies around and I have a bag of hammers I'm saling," the conspirator said, giving the buyer an address.
"iDont Feel Comfortable Comin on Those Sides this Time of Night," the buyer said.
Then on Dec. 14, Desuze called the police to say someone broke into his home while he was away and stole 15 guns from his closet including five .380 caliber pistols, a .22 caliber pistol and four pink .380 caliber semi-automatic handguns, officials said.
Desuze, Bridges and the co-conspirator contacted each other about 197 times between Nov. 23 and Dec. 26, prosecutors said.
If convicted, the six defendants involved in the trafficking scheme stand to spend up to 10 years behind bars, prosecutors said.