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Authorities last week said they nabbed a ring of alleged gun traffickers and drug dealers so audacious as to openly peddle their firearms in the middle of the day on the streets and corners of southeast Queens.
NYPD detectives working with the Queens district attorney’s office allegedly bought a total of 20 revolvers and semi-automatic weapons in face-to-face sting operations over a three-year period after they began investigating the crew back in August 2009, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
In one of the seedy buys, the ring’s alleged leader, 50-year-old Miguel Angel Tatis, of Jamaica, sold a .38-caliber revolver for $1,100 to an undercover agent in the Staples parking lot near Jamaica Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway one afternoon in August 2010, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The district attorney described two other incidents in which the dealers allegedly sold loaded and defaced firearms — in one case an Uzi machine gun — right on the streets of Jamaica.
“With few exceptions, the weapon sales were brazenly conducted in broad daylight between the hours of noon and 5 p.m. and in some cases the transactions occurred in public places such as street corners and store parking lots,” Brown said. “We must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep illegal firearms out of the hands of criminals and off of the streets of Queens.”
Tatis, who goes by the street name “Columbia,” and three others — Manuel DeJesus Caballero-Castillo, Emilio Lopez and Jose Toledo — were arrested and variously charged in a 66-count indictment with criminal possession and sale of a firearm, criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of pistol ammunition, the district attorney said.
Tatis faces up to 15 years in prison and the three others each face seven years if convicted, Brown said.
Enrique Ramos, who was arrested but not indicted, was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and faces up to nine years in prison if found guilty, according to Brown.
Last December, Police Officer Peter Figoski was shot and killed with a 9 mm Ruger semi-automatic pistol when responding to a burglary in Brooklyn.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly invoked the fallen officer’s name when touting the partnership with the DA’s office.
“One year ago, Detective Peter Figoski was killed by a suspect who wielded an illegal firearm. It is in his legacy and on behalf of New Yorkers’ safety that NYPD investigators work tirelessly to prevent other families from suffering the same fate,” he said. “Through strategic enforcement, vigilance and this and other partnerships with the Queens district attorney, including joint gun buy-back programs, New York City police are doing everything they can to keep guns out of criminal hands.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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