Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Merchants of Death

On 1/5/16, President Obama announced executive actions to strengthen background checks and hire hundreds of ATF and FBI agents to ensure that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.  He used the term “Iron Pipeline.” which refers to the I-95 corridor connecting New York City, which has strict gun laws, to the Southern states that have lax gun laws.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson is very familiar with the Iron Pipeline.  He explained to CNNMoney: "When there is a profit incentive, people will drive through the night on I-95 to bring these guns into our city.  Our problem is really the states down South, or in other parts of the country that have weak gun laws.  We have strong gun laws, but we're being overwhelmed with all the guns from these weaker states.  There is a significant financial incentive for these gun runners.  They're merchants of death."

District Attorney Thompson charged eight suspects in a 541-count indictment for smuggling 112 guns into his Brooklyn borough, including handguns and 20 assault weapons they allegedly sold to undercover police officers.  The traffickers smuggled the guns from Georgia and Pennsylvania on low fare buses that arrived in the city's Chinatown neighborhood.

Other guns brought in on buses were obtained through straw purchases at pawn shops in Atlanta and Pittsburgh for $150 to $300.  The DA said the alleged ringleader Michael Bassier resold them in a Walgreens parking lot to undercover cops, averaging $800 to $1,200 per gun.  Assault weapons could get up to $2,500.

Even airplanes have been used to smuggle guns into New York City.  In 2014, DA Thompson indicted a Delta Airlines employee for smuggling guns from Georgia to New York on commercial flights, including an AR-15, an AK-47 and Glock pistols.

In 2015, prosecutors in the Bronx charged nine suspects, including alleged Bloods gang member William "Wobbles" Soler, with a 367-count indictment for smuggling 93 guns into the city, including an AK- 47.  The 550-pound "Wobbles" Soler allegedly coordinated the sales by phone, while his underlings allegedly brought them by train from as far away as Maine.

It was estimates by CNNMoney, that William Soler's guns would have cost about $33,500 on the legal market outside the city.  He was going to double his money, according to recorded phone transcripts from Bronx County Supreme Court.


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