By Jim Kouri
While federal authorities slowly uncover facts regarding the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” snafu, the New York City Police Department is making national headlines thanks to an illegal gunrunning operation.
Eight New York City police officers faced charges on Tuesday for allegedly helping to supervise a gun-smuggling ring in their city.
Ironically, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is leading a national campaign against guns and is held in low esteem by gun groups such as the National Rifle Association.
The sworn-police officers are accused of utilizing their training, knowledge, and credentials to take part in a major criminal enterprise in which they illegally transported guns, gambling equipment, untaxed cigarettes and counterfeit products across state lines, according to a criminal complaint released by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
Five of the suspects charged are current NYPD officers, two were officers for part of the time they are accused of involvement in the smuggling operation, and one suspect was retired throughout his alleged involvement in the smuggling operation. All eight suspects worked in the same Brooklyn police stationhouse.
According to the Department of Justice, the goods smuggled had a street value of more than $1 million, and the scheme was carried in 2010-2011.
FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement that the crimes risked undermining public confidence in law enforcement. “The public trusts the police not only to enforce the law, but to obey it,” she stated.
In addition to the eight NYPD-linked officers, a former officer with the New York City Department of Sanitation Police, a current New Jersey State corrections officer, and two other men were also charged.
The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants transported almost two dozen firearms including three M-16 rifles, a shotgun and handguns from New Jersey into New York. Most of the firearms had erased or altered serial numbers.
The guns were provided to the men in a sting operation in New Jersey by an undercover investigator and were neutralize by FBI agents and were delivered to another undercover agent in New York.
“The fact that the goods really weren’t stolen and the guns didn’t work doesn’t lessen culpability, especially for those [police and corrections officers] who had sworn an oath to uphold the law,” New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
Kelly also stated that almost 90 percent of illegal guns confiscated by New York City police officers come from other states.
More than 500 mayors from more than 40 states are now members of Bloomberg’s coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group says that 30,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence.
“The killers in those cases obtained their guns illegally. Also, Bloomberg’s group’s statement that 30,000 are killed every year with firearms is exaggerated since the homicide rate in the U.S. is listed as 12,996 in 2010, with 8,770 committed with firearms,” said political strategist Mike Baker.
However, gun ownership groups have pointed to several studies that show between 600,000 and one million protective uses of firearms each year by civilians far outweigh the homicides.