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AG James and NY Drug Enforcement Task Force take down ghost gun trafficking ring

Christian Fernsby |
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force announced a 438-count indictment, charging three individuals from a gun trafficking operation that illegally sold 47 firearms, including ghost guns which were shipped to New York and Pennsylvania from various online retailers before being assembled.

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The indictment, unsealed in Queens County Supreme Court, charges Devon Smith-Martin, Fritz Pierre-Louis, and Hakeem Solomon with trafficking numerous ghost guns — weapons without serial numbers or other identifying markers — including assault weapons, machine guns, and semiautomatic pistols.

The gun trafficking operation also sold rapid-fire modification devices, silencers, high-capacity magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

In total, the investigation led to the recovery of 57 firearms, 51 of which were ghost guns.

“I will not allow our streets to be flooded with ghost guns, assault rifles, or other weapons of war,” said Attorney General James.

“Giving criminals easy access to illegal and untraceable guns is a threat to all New Yorkers and a danger that my office will not tolerate. High-capacity ammunition magazines and rapid-fire modification devices can easily turn firearms into mass-murder machines. I thank our partners in law enforcement for their support and coordination as we work to protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.”

The takedown was the result of a six-month joint investigation between the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of agents and officers of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), New York State Police (NYSP), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The investigation revealed that Devon Smith-Martin and Fritz Pierre-Louis ordered ghost gun components and accessories from out-of-state online firearm retailers and often had them shipped to an address in Pennsylvania. Devon Smith-Martin then trafficked the firearm components and accessories to New York for assembly and sale.

As a result of the interstate “Polymer” pipeline trafficking, the investigation was named “Operation Ghost Runner.”

The investigation, which led to the recovery of 57 illegal firearms, included hundreds of hours of physical and covert surveillance, court-authorized wiretapping of numerous target phones, and undercover operations.

OCTF and its partners executed search warrants at Smith-Martin’s residence and Pierre-Louis’s residence, both in Suffolk County as well as Pierre-Louis’ job site in Queens County.

Recovered during the search warrants were 3 Polymer 80 9mm ghost guns, including 1 equipped with a rapid fire modification device, numerous high-capacity magazines, including ones designed for AR-15 assault rifles, silencers, firearm component parts, including AR-15 and 9mm “lower receivers” and “upper receivers,” threaded barrels, drill kits, Polymer 80 and AR-15 “molds”, assembly tools, pistol jigs, and additional ammunition.

The three defendants were charged with various counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Criminal Sale of a Ghost Gun, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and Conspiracy for their participation in the illegal gun trafficking operation.

According to the indictment, Devon Smith-Martin acted as the main point of contact for the sale of firearms to an undercover officer.

Devon Smith-Martin would communicate with Fritz Pierre-Louis, who ordered ghost gun components and kits from various online firearm retailers and had the packages shipped to his Suffolk County residence, as well as a residence in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Working together with Fritz Pierre-Louis, Devon Smith-Martin traveled to the Allentown residence to retrieve the packages containing the firearm components and related accessories. Fritz Pierre-Louis would then assemble the ghost guns at both his Suffolk County residence and his place of employment in Queens County.

Devon Smith-Martin would outfit several of the firearms with rapid-fire modification devices which turned the firearms into fully-automatic machine guns. Devon Smith-Martin also purchased a few illegal, but serialized, firearms from other individuals for resale. Devon Smith-Martin and Hakeem Solomon also worked together to sell firearms.

Intercepted communications revealed that Devon Smith-Martin and Fritz Pierre-Louis often discussed how many completed firearms they had available to sell, counting the “tops” and “bottoms” they had on hand.

“Tops” were a reference to upper receivers, comprised of the slide and barrel, and “bottoms” were a reference to lower receivers, the frame comprised of the trigger and firing mechanisms. Specialty firearms included AR style rifles as well as the addition of rapid-fire modification devices, often referred to as “switches” which convert a semi-automatic firearm to fully-automatic.

Discussions also included adding high-capacity magazines, or “clips”, with some having the capacity to hold 30, 50, or 100 rounds of ammunition.

The investigation resulted in the recovery of the following firearms and ammunition from the defendants:

• 57 firearms, 51 of which were ghost guns
• 38 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols
• Nine 5.56-milimmeter semi-automatic AR-15 style assault weapons
• Two .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols
• One .45 caliber revolver
• Eighteen firearms outfitted with rapid fire modification devices, making them fully-automatic machine guns
• Forty-six high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, including one 100 round drum magazine
• Three silencers
• Over 800 rounds of ammunition

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 25 years in prison.

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