A Queens man faces federal gun trafficking charges for allegedly selling firearms smuggled in from Virginia to buyers from Long Island.
Federal agents cuffed Derrick Hughes, 47, on Wednesday at his South Ozone Park home and brought him to U.S. District Court in Central Islip, Long Island for arraignment. He and Virginia resident Ronald Robinson, 43, allegedly worked together to illegally import firearms to Long Island, where they were sold on the black market. Robinson was also arrested on Sept. 5 in Hampton, Virginia.
Among the weapons sold, prosecutors said, was an AR-15 multi-caliber rifle, the type of weapon used in numerous recent mass shootings across the country.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants’ illegal trafficking of firearms brought deadly weapons to the streets of Long Island,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue. “These arrests demonstrate the commitment by this office and our law enforcement partners to save lives by stopping the flow of illegal firearms into New York.”
Federal prosecutors said the gun trafficking operation took place between January and April of this year. At least seven illegal gun sales occurred in Rosedale and Valley Stream on the Queens/Nassau border line.
According to the charges, Robinson allegedly purchased two to three weapons at a time in Virginia, then transported them to New York. Hughes allegedly acted as the broker in each illegal transaction, arranging to meet customers to illegally sell them various firearms.
The smuggling operation was busted through a collaborative effort between federal authorities and the Nassau County and Suffolk County Police Departments, as well as the New York State Police and the Hempstead Police Department.
Donoghue said the case is part of “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” a Justice Department program aimed at “targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.”
Hughes and Robinson each face up to five years in federal prison if convicted. They are currently being held at federal detention centers in New York and Virginia, respectively, pending bail hearings.