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Maryland man charged in largest bust of ghost gun kits in New York state: DA

ghost guns
Calling it the largest bust of ghost gun kits in New York State, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced a Maryland resident was arrested and charged with multiple crimes after an undercover sting. (Photo courtesy of the Queens DA’s office)

In her ongoing efforts to smash the “polymer pipeline” and rid the borough of ghost guns, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday, March 10, that Wenli Bai, 57, of Maryland, has been charged with 129 counts of criminal possession of a weapon and hundreds of additional counts for other crimes after a long-term investigation and undercover sting conducted by her office.

Bai was arraigned on March 9 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Danielle Hatman on a 336-count complaint following the largest bust of ghost gun kits in New York State. Recovered were enough parts to build 74 ghost guns, 129 high-capacity magazines, and additional ghost gun components, according to Katz.

Ghost guns are unregulated weapons that bear no serial markings that make them untraceable. They are often sold in kits that can be bought online and assembled at home avoiding background checks.

The bust comes after four northeast Queens residents were arrested and charged with possessing arsenals of illegal ghost guns in their Bayside and Flushing homes earlier this month.

According to the charges, on several occasions between Feb. 12 and March 8, Bai communicated with a gun buyer, who was actually an undercover investigator from the Queens DA’s office, to transport firearms parts from Maryland to Queens. On Feb. 15, a deal was struck with the undercover “buyer” to bring 15 Glock-style, polymer-80 ghost gun kits to meet behind a business near Sunrise Highway and South Conduit Avenue in Rosedale.

ghost guns
Calling it the largest bust of ghost gun kits in New York State, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced a Maryland resident was arrested and charged with multiple crimes after an undercover sting. (Photo courtesy of the Queens DA’s office)

On Feb. 18, investigators observed Bai in a Toyota Sienna registered to his Frederick, Maryland address at the South Conduit Avenue meeting place, as agreed. The defendant allegedly sold the undercover officer the 15 ghost gun build kits, as well as large-capacity ammunition feeding devices that hold more than ten rounds of ammo and two complete assault pistol ghost gun build kits.

“This is the largest seizure of illegal ghost gun kits in New York State to date,” Katz said. “In addition to ‘the iron pipeline,’ we’re now seeing a polymer pipeline of illegal, untraceable ghost guns and ghost gun parts from down south. These deadly weapons must be kept off our streets and my office will continue to work diligently to dismantle this new polymer pipeline.”

Judge Hartman ordered the defendant to return to court on March 11. If convicted, Bai faces up to seven years in prison.

“As gun violence continues to plague our communities, eliminating ghost guns has become more important than ever,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “This massive takedown is critical to our efforts to stop the trafficking of these untraceable and unregulated weapons in New York. Nothing is more essential than protecting our communities from harm, and I thank District Attorney Katz for her important work to keep New Yorkers safe.”

The DA noted that state legislation to crack down on the sale of ghost guns and ghost gun parts will take effect next month.

“The new law increases criminal penalties and will allow us to charge the sale of unfinished frames and lower receivers as a felony,” Katz said. “We thank the governor and the state Legislature for their diligent efforts to address the scourge of ghost guns in New York.”

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