The trafficking operation was taken down on Wednesday, March 15 after a 16-month investigation by the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced.
The three men charged after the take-down were Eduardo Hernandez, age 29, of Jamaica, New York; Euclides Castillo, age 30, of Davenport, Florida; and Hampden County resident Jose Garcia, age 46, of Westfield, Massachusetts.
According to James, Hernandez, Castillo, and Garcia were part of an organization working together to traffic firearms from an "undisclosed location" in Massachusetts to New York, where they were illegally sold in New York City and Westchester County.
Between March 2021 and July 2022, Hernandez and Garcia would sell the guns, including loaded assault-style ghost guns, at Hernandez's residence in Queens. Additionally, Garcia would sell the firearms in Westchester County from a location in the village of Port Chester, according to the Attorney General's Office.
Castillo was also present for the sale of firearms and often participated. A former employee who worked in the assembly division for gun maker Smith & Wesson, Castillo would allegedly give gun buyers instructions on how to operate them while at Hernandez's residence.
In addition to the sale of firearms, Hernandez allegedly sold more than 560 grams of cocaine as part of the operation.
In total, the investigation into the trafficking operation recovered the following:
- 19 firearms, including 12 ghost guns;
- Nine 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols, including eight ghost guns;
- Seven AR-15-style assault weapons, including four ghost guns, two of which were loaded;
- Two .45 Caliber pistols, including one that was loaded;
- One 12-gauge shotgun that was cut down, defaced, and loaded;
Six high-capacity magazines;
Around 560 grams of cocaine and 0.4 grams of heroin.
In total, the three suspects are charged with trafficking 19 guns, including 12 ghost guns, six high-capacity magazines, and more than 560 grams of cocaine with a street value of approximately $25,000, according to the 123-count indictment.
The men face the following charges:
- First, second, and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm;
- Second-degree criminal sale of a ghost gun;
- Second and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon;
- First, second, and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance;
- Second and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance;
- Conspiracy to sell firearms;
- Conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
If convicted, Hernandez faces up to 25 years in prison for first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and up to 20 years for first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Garcia faces up to 15 years in jail, and Castillo faces up to seven years.
"Untraceable ghost guns present a new and growing risk to our safety, but this takedown makes clear that we will not allow anyone to make a business selling ghost guns and assault weapons in our state," James said of the arrests.
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