Twelve men have been arrested in connection with an alleged narcotics and gun trafficking ring in Camden County, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday.
The criminal network was responsible for illegally trafficking untraceable assault rifles known as “ghost guns” that were assembled from kits purchased online and dealing cocaine, according to authorities.
Four men are charged with conspiring to sell six untraceable AR-15 assault rifles. The charges are the first ever filed in a ghost gun trafficking case under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in November 2018 that made it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in New Jersey.
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. A total of 13 guns were recovered in the investigation, including the six ghost gun AR-15 assault rifles. Parts for two more AR-15 ghost guns also were seized.
The arrests, made from March 8 to March 14, were the result of “Operation Stone Wall,” a year-long, multi-agency investigation. Ten men are charged with distributing narcotics, primarily cocaine, including two defendants who also are charged with illegal gun trafficking. The two remaining defendants are charged solely in connection with the illegal gun trafficking.
Investigators say the suspects were captured discussing a gun sale that would be delayed over having to work around the new criminal law, which would force them to ship guns to Pennsylvania as opposed to New Jersey.
On March 13, authorities intercepted parts for two more assault rifles allegedly ordered by two of the suspects for shipment to Bensalem.
“This case starkly illustrates why ghost guns are so dangerous, because drug dealers and other criminals can easily acquire them and traffic them into our communities, where they will be virtually untraceable if used in a crime,” said Grewal.
The investigation initially focused on the alleged cocaine distribution activities of Lamont White, his son, Tyriek Bradford, and their associate, John Rayford, all of Lindenwold. Bradford is also charged with distributing heroin.