What is New York Iron Pipeline? NYPD seizes 182 smuggled guns in Queens amid spate of mass shootings
Around 182 handguns, 136 high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammo were seized as five men got indicted by NYPD. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said at a news conference that the accused men were caught exploiting the lax gun laws in Tennessee and using the infamous “gun show loophole” to funnel the weapons via Iron Pipeline. The arrest comes after a year-long investigation of ‘Iron Pipeline’ branch that ran from Tennessee to New York City.
According to NY Post, the accused were hit with a 1,611-count indictment with charges including criminal sale of a weapon and criminal possession of a weapon in an investigation cops nicknamed ‘Operation Hot Cakes,’ Katz said. She added by saying, “Illegal gun traffickers who flood our neighborhoods with dangerous firearms put every resident of our borough at grave risk. We have seen far too many instances of guns, purchased down South and trafficked into New York that are then recovered at devastating crime scenes, leaving bloodshed and tragedy on our streets.”
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According to Daily News, the operation was an 11-month investigation that led to the arrest of a 70-year-old Tennessee man, Richard Horne, including Anthony Sanford, 57, of Jamaica; Oliver Sanford, 40, of Springfield Gardens; Jonathan Harris, 28, of the Bronx; and Thomas Parsley, 44, of the Bronx as well. The officials used court-authorized surveillance to locate local dealers who made trips to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet with Horne. The officials also said that there were intercepted conversations between Horne and one of his buyers that revealed makes, models, and prices of the firearms that were purchased.
Inspector Brian Gill, commanding officer of the Firearms Suppression Section, informs that the initial investigation was started after a Springfield Gardens resident called in a tip about gun sales in the neighborhood. Talking to NY Post, the officer said, “The average price was $1,035. Typically people charge double retail on an illegal firearms purchase.”
The report further suggests that the scheme included four city residents and Horne. While Harris was identified as the main supplier while three other men were identified as resellers and distributors, according to the officials, who also added that their sales had a reach from Southeast Queens to the Soundview section of the Bronx. Officials said that Horne was recorded warning his alleged Harris, about federal agents monitoring a gun show at which they were planning to meet. However, they arrested Harris while he was returning home from Tennessee and recovered 23 firearms from a plastic bag in the trunk of his vehicle, and another six guns from two bags that were also in the trunk, informed the officials.
As of now, the four men are held in prison without bail, and Horne is awaiting extradition to New York, as per reports.
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What is the New York Iron Pipeline?
It refers to the I-95 corridor connecting New York City, which has strict gun laws, to the Southern states that have relatively lax gun laws. It also refers to Chicago and its proximity to gun-friendly Indiana.
According to CNN, former president Barack Obama invoked the Iron Pipeline on January 5, 2016, when he announced executive actions to clarify laws on background checks and to hire hundreds of ATF and FBI agents to enforce them.