State authorities working a drug investigation seized a half-dozen “ghost gun” assault rifles, along with parts for two more, while arresting a dozen men who they said trafficked weapons and drugs.
Concern has been growing among law enforcement nationwide as more criminals assemble do-it-yourself “ghost guns” with a variety of machinery, including 3-D printers, from online mail-order kits.
The results are unregistered weapons that don’t have serial numbers, making them impossible to trace, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said Monday.
“Assault rifles like these pose an especially deadly threat to law enforcement, innocent bystanders, and others when placed in the wrong hands,” the attorney general said.
“Drug dealers and other criminals can easily acquire them and traffic them into our communities, where they will be virtually untraceable if used in a crime,” he said.
A total of 13 guns in all were recovered and a dozen men arrested by members of the state Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police during “Operation Stone Wall,” a year-long operation that began as drug investigation in Camden County and quickly expanded, the attorney general said.
Authorities also seized more than a pound of cocaine, with a street value of $18,500 to $37,000, and three bundles (30 doses) of heroin, he said.
Ten of those busted were charged with distributing drugs, mostly cocaine, and two with illegal gun trafficking.
A New Jersey law that took effect this past November makes it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in the state.
The defendants, in turn, had guns and parts shipped to Pennsylvania, Grewal said.
Last week, authorities intercepted parts for two more AR-15 assault rifles that they said were ordered by two of the defendants for shipment to Bensalem, Pa., he said.
Investigators originally targeted a South Jersey man, his son and an associate whom they said were selling cocaine.
Before long, they were on the trail of suppliers who, it turns out, were also selling guns, Grewal said.
Two of the defendants assembled the weapons “using kits [they] bought online before selling them for $1,100 to $1,300 each, the attorney general said.
Leading the prosecution in “Operation Stone Wall” is Deputy Attorney General Cassandra Montalto of the state Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The case agent is Detective Ryan Cunningham of the State Police Gangs and Organized Crime South Unit.
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