Eleven people have been indicted and 154 firearms have been seized from Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Flatbush, as a result of three undercover NYPD operations going back to 2011, according to Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who spoke of the development Thursday.
“While New York City remains the safest large city in America, incidents of gun violence continue to plague our communities,” said Hynes. “The number of shootings in New York demonstrates clearly the need to keep illegal guns off the streets.”
Kelly noted that the firearms were taken off the streets of Flatbush, Crown Heights and Bushwick.
"[In the first investigation] an undercover NYPD detective bought a total of 51 guns during 29 separate transactions from David Augustine," Hynes said. "The sales took place in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn in broad daylight."
He noted that Augustine sold pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, semi automatic handguns to undercover detectives; 26 of the weapons were loaded and one was stolen from the NYPD several years ago. "One of these has been used in a homicide," Hynes said.
The investigation into that matter is continuing as is the investigation into how Augustine obtained the guns in the first place.
Augustine also sold the undercover detective a bullet-proof vest, Hynes said. Augustine has been charged with multiple counts and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted on the top count.
Allegedly another Flatbush resident, Richard James, 20, was also involved in one of the 29 sales Augustine conducted. It is alleged that James handed Augustine a black plastic bag that contained a semi-automatic pistol that he then sold to an undercover detective. Augustine and James were charged jointly for this sale. James faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
Individuals from Crown Heights and Bushwick were indicted on similar charges as a result of two additional investigations.
"The average age of the sellers was 21-and-a-half," Kelly said. "Brokers delivered up to five sales per week, sometimes selling as many as seven guns at a time."
Kelly said that at least three guns sold in these operations were previously used in shootings in Brooklyn, and noted that the guns could be traced back to Augustine.
"In the 70th and 71st Precincts where most of these gun-buys were conducted, shooting are down by double digits; 63 percent and 38 percent respectively," Kelly said. "This is due in no small part to the targeted undercover buys like those that have been described today, and of course, the street enforcement that includes police stops and the community participation of our gun buy-back program…"
The investigation tracked several of the weapons that ultimately wound up in the hands of the NYPD to other states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama and Maryland.
“The dangers that illegal guns pose on our streets cannot be overstated,” Hynes said. “My office will continue to work with the Firearms Investigations Unit of the NYPD to vigorously investigate and prosecute all people involved in the illegal sale of firearms; and we will seek the maximum penalty for those found guilty.”