A three-month investigation disrupted a Georgia-to-New York gun trafficking pipeline and resulted in the seizure of 25 guns, including five assault weapons, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, which said the guns and a quantity of cocaine were sold to an undercover officer.
According to the DEA, the sales of 25 guns occurred in Manhattan on four dates between Sept. 3 and Nov. 12. It said that before each sale, Yamil Torres-Rincon, 24, traveled from Georgia to New York City. On multiple occasions, the DEA said, he drove with guns concealed inside a hidden compartment in his car.
In total, 20 handguns and five assault weapons were seized. The NYPD determined some guns were stolen.
Torres-Rincon is facing numerous charges, according to a criminal complaint, including criminal sale of firearms in the first degree, criminal sale of a firearm in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree.
In some parts of Jacksonville, gun violence is a common occurrence. News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson says many times, people are charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm because they can’t legally purchase a weapon at a federally licensed gun store, and therefore purchase a firearm on the black market.
“They’re usually stolen or purchased from another felon or some undercover person who is dealing in weapons,” Jefferson said.
Federal and local law enforcement workers say guns and drugs go hand-in-hand, often resulting in violent outcomes on the streets.
“Everyone involved in that kind of activity are always armed, sometimes with an assault rifles,” Jefferson said.
And if a person with nefarious intentions has the money, he or she can get their hand on just about any weapon they want. Something like an AR-15 can sell for about $800 in a store, but on the black market, it could fetch three times that amount.
Z. Farhat is the sales manager at Green Acres Sporting Goods on the Westside.
“Criminals will pay a lot more than they are really valued just so they have them without papers or be untraceable,” Farhat said.
At times, witnesses at Jacksonville crime scenes will tell News4Jax that they saw someone firing an assault riffle.
“When you got this sort of fire power on the black market, yes, that concerns law enforcement,” Jefferson said.
Farhat says there is one suspicious purchase that always gets the attention of federal agents.
“If somebody is going to walk into a store and purchase 10 of the same make and model, that is going to be a red flag,” he said. “ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) will likely follow up with that customer and ask what do they need 10 of the same gun for.”
Farhat says, unfortunately, guns that were used to commit violent crimes in Jacksonville have been traced back to his store, but so far in every case, the gun was reported stolen from a customer’s home or car. Farhat says gun traces have become very common.
“We probably get two or three every month at least. Sometimes more. Any time a gun that ever left our store is used in a crime, we get a trace,” he said.
Last year, 522 guns were reported stolen from unlocked cars in Jacksonville. On Monday night, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that number is higher so far for 2021, saying that 582 firearms have been stolen in auto burglaries in Jacksonville. It’s unclear what ultimately happened to those weapons.