Thursday, October 2, 2008

Five Charged with Selling Guns to Undercover Cops

Sting Operation Nets 38 Illegal Weapons

Five men, including two from Queens, have been charged with selling dozens of weapons including sawed-off shotguns to undercover police officers over the past year.

Ali Kabeer, 25, and Ali Hassan, 42, both of Queens and Thomas Suarez, 26, along with Brooklyn residents Thomas Suarez, 26, Scott Kwaak, 21, and Clinton Kwaak, 24, were charged last Wednesday following a thirteen month investigation.The suspects were charged last week on a 63-count indictment variously charging them with criminal sale of a firearm and conspiracy.

If convicted, Suarez and Scott Kwaak each face up to 25 years in prison, Kabeer faces up to 15 years and Hassan and Clinton Kwaak each face up to seven years. Four of the men were taken into custody last week and arraigned in Queens Criminal Court. The fifth, Kabeer, has been located in Florida and will be extradited to New York, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“The defendants are accused of attempting to see the streets of New York with dozens of illegal weapons that would have posed a serious public safety threat if their plan had been carried out,” said Brown.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Tommy Gun, began in July 2007 when detectives with the NYPD’s Firearms Investigation Unit received information that the defendants were selling illegal guns on the black market. Detectives then set up a sting operation that included a series of telephone conversations followed by face-to-fact street deals.

The men are charged, either individually or jointly, with selling a total of 38 weapons – many of which had their serial numbers removed – to undercover officers at locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan between July 2007 and August 21 of this year.

The sales to undercover officers included one meeting in July 2007 in which Kabeer and Suarez sold a defaced Tec 22 9mm; the sale of a sawed-off defaced .22-caliber rifle by Suarez in January; and an August meeting in which Scott Kwaak sold an officer a .45-caliber assault rifle for $2,400.

The men also allegedly sold the officers a 9mm pistol with a silencer, a .32-caliber revolver, other handguns of various calibers and 12-gauge sawed-off shotguns. The guns were all sent to the NYPD ballistics laboratory, which confirmed that they were operable.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the 38 guns seized are among 3,000 taken off city streets so far this year by the department. “The fact that they are out of criminal hands is one of the reasons why New York City remains the safest big city in the country,” he said.

According to the district attorney, Kabeer has home addresses on 108th Street, Chestnut Street, Liberty Avenue and 128th Street, while the other suspect from Queens, Hassan, lives on 102nd Road in Ozone Park.

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