NEW YORK — A pair of gunrunners smuggled firearms into New York City by hiding them in luggage they carried on discount buses that offered cheap fares and lesser odds of getting caught, authorities said Monday.
An undercover city police officer posing as a gun broker for criminal customers bought 254 weapons from the men in dozens of transactions since last year, the largest gun seizures in the city in recent memory.
One of the guns was an assault rifle that was disassembled and transported in a girlfriend’s zebra-striped bag, authorities said.
The alleged smugglers, Walter Walker and Earl Campbell, were among 19 people arrested in New York and in North Carolina and South Carolina — states where the guns originated — as the result of a 10-month investigation. Also charged was an aspiring rapper from Brooklyn.
Walker and Campbell were arrested earlier this month by local police in their home states, authorities said. The names of their defense attorneys were not immediately available.
New York Police Department prosecutors announced details of the case on Monday, citing it as another example of a persistent black market in which firearms from the South can sell for three times their original price in the city.
Wiretap evidence showed that sellers in the Carolinas knew the weapons were destined for New York, said Bridget Brennan, special narcotics prosecutor.