Investigators in New Jersey looking into a cocaine trafficking operation say they inadvertently uncovered something much more deadly: a “ghost guns” dealership.
What is a “ghost gun”?
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal says they are assault rifles that are a legal enigma, built from kits bought online, sold to people without background checks and undetectable to law enforcement.
“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,” said a release from Grewal.
Investigators charged four men with conspiring to sell six untraceable AR-15 assault rifles, under a New Jersey law passed in 2018, said the release. Parts of two other AR-15 “ghost guns” were also found by investigators, said a release.
Prices for the rifles ranged from $1,100 to $1,300 per gun, said a release.
The four men are among 12 suspects, ages 20 to 53, arrested March 8 to 14 in a year-long investigation into a suspected cocaine distribution operation in Lindenwold, N.J., said a release.
“Ten men are charged with distributing narcotics, primarily cocaine, including two defendants who also are charged with illegal gun trafficking,” said the release. “The two remaining defendants are charged solely in connection with the illegal gun trafficking.”
“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 a statement issued by Attorney General Grewal.
“Assault rifles like these pose an especially deadly threat to law enforcement, innocent bystanders, and others when placed in the wrong hands,” Grewal continued, according to the release, “and suffice it to say no one conducted any background checks here.”
The four men charged with selling “ghost guns” included: Christopher Stoner, 41; Nicholas Cilien, 38; Paul Corum, 43, and Marc Freeman, 53.