Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced a grand jury's indictment of two Long Island men, including one from Huntington Station, during a press conference at his office in Hauppauge on Monday afternoon.
Following a 10-month investigation, the DA uncovered that the two Suffolk County men were involvement in a gun trafficking network that extended to Hernando County in Florida's Tampa metro area.
"This is the first time in Suffolk County that this crime has been charged since being added to the Penal Law in 2007," Spota said. "An offender is defined as someone who unlawfully sells, exchanges, gives, or disposes to another person or persons a total of 10 or more firearms in a period of not more than one year and could carry a 25-year sentence."
The Huntington Station man, Santos Garcia, 39, was arrested and charged with third degree criminal sale of a firearm which is listed as a Class D felony in New York State Penal Law. He was arrested on July 2 for selling a handgun to undercover officers at the Juri Bodega on Islip Avenue in Brentwood, where he worked as the manager.
The other man Carlos Garcia (no known relation), 47, was apprehended during a search of his home in Central Islip. Detectives from the District Attorney's office had purchased several guns from him over the period of the investigation which amounts to a first degree criminal sale of firearms, a Class B violent felony. He also faces drug charges for selling more than three ounces of cocaine.
"He brokered the deals with his brother down in Florida," Spota said referring to Carlos Garcia and his brother Romel Garcia, 43, who is being indicted in Suffolk but currently remains in custody in Hernando County.
The guns, many of them purchased in Florida, were resold on Long Island. Among the weapons recovered during the 10-month investigation were handguns including a RG .25 caliber semi-automatic, a Glock 357 semi-automatic, a Beemiller 9 mm semi-automatic, a Remington Arms bolt action rifle, a Jimenez Arms .25 caliber semi-automatic, a Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic Cobra Enterprises .380, a Charter Arms .38 revolver, and a Glock .40 caliber.
Spota emphasized that all the guns obtained would have eventually been used by gang members, specifically those of MS-13. He cited three shootings this month, all in Huntington Station, that left three victims wounded and one dead, to exemplify a spike of gun violence in the county.
"Gangs and gun violence are wreaking havoc on Suffolk County," Spota said early in the press conference. Altogether 16 weapons, 14 of them handguns and one of them a shotgun, were obtained.
Spota was joined by U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop from New York's 1st District, who he credited with securing the $245,000 in 2010 fiscal year budget for funding that ultimately helped secure these arrests.
Rep. Bishop, who is seeking $200,000 in fiscal year 2011, said, "The tangible result of federal government obtaining money for the local government will be helpful in securing money in the future."
Det. Tom Tzimorotas, one of the detectives who worked on the case, said the investigation that eventually led to Carlos Garcia began with Huntington Station's Santos Garcia, after they were contacted by an officer from the 3rd precinct about the illegal activity allegedly going on at the Juri Bodega.
Spota wouldn't comment on whether or not he suspected that anyone else was involved because the investigation is ongoing.
The trial date has not been set, but the DA's office anticipates it will be either Tuesday or Wednesday. Santos Garcia is currently out on bail. If convicted, he could serve 2-7 years in prison.