NEW YORK - Two New York gun trafficking networks were dismantled and 16 people indicted in a sting that netted more than 100 illegal firearms including assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols, police and prosecutors said Friday.
The suspected leaders of the two operations arrested on Thursday and Friday were charged with criminal sale of a firearm and other crimes that could put them away for life if convicted. Three of the suspects were still at large.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Mitchell "Mickey" Collins, 64, and Dario Wynerman, 21, ran two separate operations and sold dozens of illegal weapons. Wynerman was arraigned and held without bail; his attorney didn't return a call seeking comment Friday. Collins had not yet been arraigned late Friday and was being held. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney.
Kelly said the Collins operation began last year and he and three other suspects sold a total of 88 firearms to undercover officers. Kelly said most of the guns were bought in pawn shops in South Carolina, then resold in Harlem. Some were reported stolen but it was not clear whether they were stolen or straw purchases.
The second operation began last November, and most of the suspects were between ages 17 and 23, Kelly said. Wynerman's operation sold 41 guns _ and a bullet- resistant vest to an undercover officer, Kelly said. The other suspects are young men involved in street crews.
"It's unusual to see individuals as old as Mickey Collins still engaged in criminal activity. Regrettably, it's not unusual for young men to get involved in violent street crews," Kelly said.
Both operations started after detectives learned that guns were being sold illegally on the street.
"These are the most significant gun trafficking investigations in Manhattan in recent history, both in terms of the number of illegal gun traffickers taken into custody, and the sheer volume of illegal guns removed from the streets," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was important to remember that illegal guns remain a problem nationwide and he urged the presidential candidates to address the issue.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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