Arsenal of ghost guns and thousands of rounds seized during Rockaway Park raid: DA

ghost guns
More than 30 firearms were found in Ryszard Materna’s Rockaway Park home after a search warrant was executed by law enforcement on Wednesday.
Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

A Rockaway Park man was criminally charged with a slew of crimes after an arsenal of more than 30 firearms, including ghost guns and assault weapons, was uncovered along with thousands of rounds of ammunition and other weapons-related paraphernalia were seized during a raid at his home on Beach 117th Street on Wednesday.

Ryszard Materna, 51, was arraigned Thursday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Germaine Auguste on a 281-count complaint after a long-term investigation into his purchase of polymer-based firearm components that can easily be assembled into operable weapons, known as ghost guns.

According to the charges, Materna placed numerous orders for firearm components, accessories, and ammunition, which were shipped to an address in Pennsylvania and to his home in Rockaway Park.

On Apr. 17, officers from the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s Detective Bureau executed a court-authorized search warrant at Materna’s residence. They recovered five loaded, fully assembled .223-caliber semi-automatic AR-15 style ghost gun assault rifles, two fully loaded fully assembled .45-caliber semiautomatic ghost gun pistols, four loaded fully assembled 5.56-caliber semi-automatic AR-15 style ghost gun assault rifles, and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and other firearms. They also recovered 107 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammo, two silencers, assorted tools used to manufacture ghost guns, and 5,000 rounds of assorted 9 mm, .300- and 5.56-caliber ammunition.

“For those who think they are safe placing orders online and assembling deadly weapons in the comfort of their home, they need to think again,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.

Council Member Joann Ariola met with the Community Affairs officers at the 100th Precinct in Rockaway Beach on Friday morning to discuss the case.

“This was a huge cache of illegal firearms that was taken off our streets,” Ariola told QNS. “We don’t yet know what the defendant was doing with all of these weapons, but given the size of the arsenal, if he was planning to sell these to gang members and violent criminals, it could have been disastrous.”

Materna was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree; 53 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree; 137 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; 19 counts of manufacture, transport, disposition, and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances; 29 counts of criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree; 29 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. He was also charged with six counts of failure to safely store files, shotguns and firearms in the first degree; endangering the welfare of a child; three counts of unlawful possession of pistol or revolver ammunition; and two counts of failure to obtain firearm certificates of registration.

“These charges emphasize that the manufacturing of illegal, untraceable ghost guns is one of New York City’s most pressing public safety concerns, and we are taking direct action to combat this issue,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “Our relentless efforts to eliminate gun violence in New York make clear that NYPD investigators, in collaboration with the Queens District Attorney’s office, will continue vigorously pursue these types of cases.”

The seizure caps the fifth successful ghost gun investigation this year carried out by the Queens DA’s office, which has led the city in ghost gun recoveries every year since 2021, taking 392 illegal firearms off the streets.

“So far this year, we have recovered 69% of the ghost guns seized citywide and we will continue to meticulously go after illegal guns and those who stockpile them,” Katz said. “Every gun that we seize is a potential tragedy avoided.”

Materna faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“The NYPD 100% saved lives through this arrest, and I applaud their fast action in this case,” Ariola told QNS. “I’m confident that the DA’s office will do its due diligence and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. This will not only prevent a dangerous individual from returning to the streets but will also serve as a deterrent to others who might be thinking about following a similar path.”