A Camden gun trafficking ring is busted as state and federal officials target illegal weapons
New Jersey state and federal officials Thursday arrested 11 people for selling illegal guns, including untraceable ghost guns, in Camden.
State and federal authorities on Thursday announced the arrests of 11 members of a Camden-based crime ring they say trafficked in illegal weapons, including untraceable ghost guns.
Law enforcement officials also seized 20 illegal firearms, including two assault rifles — one of them a ghost gun, together with seven additional ghost guns, 11 other handguns, and two large-capacity ammunition magazines, acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck said.
“This operation is part of our ongoing effort to dismantle the organizations that funnel illegal firearms into this state and into this city,” he said during a news conference at the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. “As prosecutors and as law enforcement officers, we have seen how weapons of war are bloodying the streets of Camden. We’re committed to cutting off the supply lines.”
While New Jersey has strong gun laws, he said, people often buy guns out of state and bring them into New Jersey.
The operation that led to the gun arrests announced Thursday began as an investigation into stolen motorcycles and ATVs that started in September, said state Police Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan.
The initial inquiry focused on ringleader Lamar Soto, 28, his brother Jirman Soto, 25, his sister Selena Soto, 24, and associate Ruben Zayas, 19, he said. Undercover detectives purchased 20 stolen vehicles during the investigation and determined that Soto and three others were also dealing methamphetamine and cocaine.
Detectives purchased the ghost assault rifle for $3,000, while the ghost handguns ranged in price from $1,350 to $1,900, he said.
The 11 defendants have been charged with numerous counts including drug trafficking, first-degree racketeering, and second-degree conspiracy to steal, receive, and traffic stolen motorcycles and ATVs.