Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced the arrest of a man who illegally trafficked untraceable firearms known as “ghost guns” in the area of Paterson. Ghost guns, which are outlawed in New Jersey, are assembled from kits that can be purchased online.
According to officials, Michael Maresca, 32, of Hasbrouck Heights, was arrested yesterday, November 19, outside his residence as the result of an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice and Paterson Police Department.
The two lead agencies subsequently executed a search warrant at Maresca’s residence with assistance from the New Jersey State Police and Hasbrouck Heights Police Department and recovered 2 assault rifles, 1 fully operational ghost gun, 1 complete, but disassembled ghost gun, 1 partial ghost gun (lower receiver), 2 shotguns, 18 illegal large-capacity magazines, large amounts of ammunition, including illegal hollow-point and armor-piercing rounds, build kits to make firearms and 1 pellet gun.
According to police, during the prior month, Maresca allegedly sold two ghost guns, one of which had an illegal 15-round magazine loaded with hollow-point bullets, to an undercover officer. The sales took place at Maresca’s residence, and each gun was sold for $1,650.
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. Governor Murphy signed a law in November 2018 that makes it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in New Jersey.
“In the midst of a pandemic, our detectives are doing all they can to address the scourge of gun violence in our cities,” Attorney General Grewal said. “A big part of our efforts has been to hold accountable those who fuel this gun violence by trafficking illegal firearms, especially ghost guns, in our state. Law-abiding residents don’t need these outlawed, untraceable guns, but they command a high price among criminals.”
“This is another in a series of important joint investigations by the Division of Criminal Justice and Paterson Police Department targeting criminal elements undermining public safety in the City of Paterson,” Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice said.
Paterson Mayor André Sayegh said: “Getting guns and drugs off our streets is our priority. Last month, in partnership with our Attorney General, two drug mills were taken down in Paterson. This month, as a part of that same partnership, illegal and lethal weapons were seized.”
Maresca was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, Possession of an Assault Firearm, Firearms Without a Serial Number, Sale of a Manufactured Firearm Without a Serial Number, Purchasing Parts to Manufacture a Firearm, Unlawful Sale of a Weapon, Possession of Illegal Large-Capacity Magazines, Sale of a Large-Capacity Magazine and Possession of Hollow-Point Bullets.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.