Interim District Attorney Eric Gonzalez may have ducked out of yesterday’s district attorney’s forum, but he rebounded today in classic incumbent form – by announcing a huge gun trafficking bust that took dozens of firearms off the Brooklyn streets.
The candidates forum held in Brownsville’s Atlantic Towers featured four other candidates – Ama Dwimoh, Anne Swern, City Councilman Vincent Gentile and Patricia Gatling – all vying to become the brough’s top prosecutor and replace the late District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Brownsville’s Community 1st Democratic Club organized the forum including Democratic District Leader Anthony Jones, Club President Shemene Monique Minter and Atlantic Towers President Pat Winston.
Minter said she invited Gonzalez several times to participate and sources told her Gonzalez initially said he doesn’t do panels with other candidates. Then when MInter saw Gonzalez at Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright‘s recent inauguration, the acting DA said he’d be out of town.
Gonzalez spokesperson Lis Smith cleared the air today saying,”DA Gonzalez has not yet announced his candidacy, and this was a candidates forum. He regularly engages with the community and holds public events, like his announcement of the largest illegal gun bust in Brooklyn history today. He looks forward to a robust debate about the issues facing Brooklyn.”
Gonzalez announced the gun bust today with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, in which 24 individuals — 22 of whom are residents of Virginia — have been charged in a 627-count indictment with weapons offenses and conspiracy for trafficking guns purchased in Virginia to be sold on the streets of Brooklyn.
According to the indictment, 10 of the defendants brought anywhere from two to 12 guns at a time to Brooklyn or Manhattan from Virginia. The defendants allegedly traveled by car or bus to New York with the firearms and met the purchaser to complete the sale. Other defendants are accused as so-called ‘straw purchasers,’ individuals who, while legally entitled to purchase firearms under Virginia law, allegedly did so in this case only in order to give them to other defendants for illegal resale.
According to the investigation, the sales took place at various locations in Brooklyn, including in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Sunset Park, and Boerum Hill. .
The weapons recovered during the course of the investigation include assault weapons such as AK-47s, AR-15s, Thomson Industries (a.k.a. Tommy guns), Mossberg 715Ts, and MAC-10s. The handguns include a .45 caliber Desert Eagle 1911, Glocks with extended ammunition magazines and 50 round ammunition drums, and handguns of various calibers including .45 caliber, .40 caliber, .380 caliber, and 9mm.
“In this unique case, we charged more defendants and recovered more firearms than in any other case in Brooklyn’s history. We will go wherever we must, including other states, to continue fighting the scourge of firearms trafficking. We will not rest until every individual allegedly importing illegal guns into our borough – and with them death and violence – has seen their names on an indictment like this one,” said Gonzalez.
All the candidates at the forum explained they have lengthy experience as Assistant District Attorneys and told the audience of about 50 people they will carry on Thompson’s legacy of criminal justice reform, while stating they would be tough prosecutors as well.