How much would you pay for a Mac-11, "the U.S. version of the Israeli-made Uzi"?
Toodle-loo, gun thugs
BY TONY SCLAFANI
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU
In the biggest gun bust in memory, undercover NYPD cops nabbed a band of Midwestern smugglers in Queens yesterday - including one holed up in a porta-potty with a mother lode of brand-new weapons, officials said.
The predawn operation capped an 11-month sting that netted the NYPD close to 120 illegal firearms - including powerful assault rifles - and the alleged ringleader of a nationwide trafficking organization.
"This is a very, very significant seizure ... the biggest one that I can remember," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "They were the source of scores of guns sold illegally on the streets of New York in the last year."
Cops lassoed the Ohio-based crew as members were closing their latest deal in a quiet area off the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens, police said.
The suspects dropped off dealer Matthew Brown, 19, who stuffed himself and two large boxes of guns into a green-and-white Royal Flush portable john at a dead end near a construction site on 145th Ave. and 178th Place, cops said.
Then the suspects headed to Farmers Blvd. two blocks away to meet the unidentified buyers, collect the cash and tell them where Brown was hiding with the goods.
Unbeknown to them, the NYPD firearms investigations unit was watching both spots and moved in just after 5 a.m. to arrest crew leader Douglas Wellington and his associates - Brown; Amire Smith, 23, and a woman, Achsah Washington, 21, all of Columbus, Ohio.
Inside the potty, cops found 17 handguns bought out of state, including 10 9-mm. pistols, neatly wrapped in boxes.
The cache brought to 116 the number of guns seized from the Ohio gang under an 11-month NYPD probe dubbed Operation Tripod, Kelly said. Weapons also were illegally trafficked in from gun stores in Maine, California and Nevada, he said.
Street prices ranged from $200 for a Marlin 30-30 rifle to $1,750 for a Tec-9 machine pistol, but most of the guns were popular 9-mm. pistols with a street price of $1,000.
The bust came a month after Mayor Bloomberg pledged a national campaign to stop the flow of illegal guns into New York - and it was a coup for theNYPD.
"Seventy-two percent of all guns used in crimes in New York City originate from out of state," Kelly said. "But it's rare to apprehend the out-of-town supplier."
Ohio is one of the top sources of illegal guns, Kelly said. Others include Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
The Ohio suspects had worked as middlemen, or straw purchasers, to deliver firepower to Yusef Logan, 31, of Queens, who heads a major smuggling ring, cops said.
Logan would then sell the guns to Daniel Awuku, 34, of Brooklyn, and Marvin Mrythil, 26, of Queens, who are accused of supplying drug pushers and other criminals, police said.
Logan and Awuku were arrested Wednesday. Mrythil - who had 200 bags of pot in his apartment - is on the run, cops said.
From April until yesterday, the Ohio crew allegedly sold 97 guns - with a street value of $118,000 - in 38 undercover police buys in Brooklyn and Queens.
Some of the weapons rank among the most powerful, including the classic assault rifle AK-47 and the Mac-11, the U.S. version of the Israeli-made Uzi.
The gang made the 500-mile trek at least five times, said Capt. Robert Tracy, commander of the firearms investigations unit.
None of the seized guns has been linked to any crime.
The fatal shootings of two NYPD cops last year sparked stiffer state gun laws and demands from politicians to close down the so-called Iron Pipeline that gunrunners use to bring out-of-state weaponry to New York.
But Kelly conceded there is no clear solution to the problem as long as there is demand for the contraband.
"Guns remain the weapon of first choice among murderers in New York City," Kelly said.
Damn! I sold mine for 350 back in Dec 1999, I lost big time and I really thought I did good