Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a wave of 35 indictments secured by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice in just over two months charging numerous defendants with illegal gun trafficking and/or possession of illicit weapons, including untraceable ghost guns, assault rifles, and outlawed large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Ghost guns are not registered and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes. The indictments charge a total of 81 defendants, a majority of whom face various weapons offenses in connection with the following illegal weapons seized in the investigations:
- 96 Illegal Guns
- 16 Assault Rifles
- 1 Machine Gun
- 53 Illegal Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazines
The illegal guns include a total of 10 Ghost Guns that do not bear federally registered serial numbers.
Most of the guns traced in these cases were purchased in various states other than New Jersey, including Pennsylvania, which was the source of at least 18 guns, and South Carolina, which was the source of at least 12 guns, as well as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, among others. Five of the indictments charge defendants with illegally trafficking guns. The others charge possession of illegal weapons by other alleged criminals, including individuals charged with using guns in violent crimes, alleged drug dealers, an alleged human trafficker, and a fugitive charged with credit card fraud.
Thirty-four of the indictments stem from investigations conducted between January 2019 and February 2021, with most charging conduct in 2020 and 2021. One case dates to 2018. Thirty-three indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Two indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. The Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police consistently join with other law enforcement partners to conduct strategic investigations focused on disrupting the supply-line of weapons trafficking into violent areas, arresting drug dealers and seizing existing weapons in those areas, and aggressively prosecuting all defendants who traffic, use, or possess guns in connection with criminal activity. “We are aggressively targeting those responsible for the proliferation of guns and gun violence in our communities, including gun traffickers, drug dealers, and other criminals who arm themselves with illegal weapons,” said Attorney General Grewal.
“Assault rifles have long been a weapon of choice for gangs and drug dealers, and more recently there has been an alarming increase in untraceable ghost guns, which often are seized by police after they have been used in a shooting."
"By focusing on illegal guns, working to shut down the iron pipeline of firearms from other states, and prosecuting offenders under New Jersey’s tough gun laws, we are taking guns and armed criminals off of the street—and undoubtedly saving lives.” The 35 state grand jury indictments charge the defendants with offenses ranging from unlawful possession and disposition of handguns, assault weapons, and machine guns to leader of a firearms trafficking network, and also include charges of:
- Unlawful transportation of firearms into the state
- Charges related to the unlawful purchase, manufacture, transportation, and possession of ghost gun parts and ghost guns
- Unlawful possession of defaced weapons
- Unlawful possession of weapons during the commission of narcotics offenses
- Unlawful possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines
- Unlawful possession of illegal hollow-point bullets
- Unlawful possession of weapons by convicted felons
Many of the charges carry Graves Act penalties requiring mandatory periods of parole ineligibility of up to five years.