YONKERS, N.Y. Yonkers police seized 46 firearms, including nine assault rifles, and arrested three men in what authorities are calling one of the biggest undercover gun busts in Westchester County history.
Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner was joined by several city and county authorities Wednesday as he announced the score inside a Yonkers Avenue police station.
Standing in front of the purchased weapons, which included eight AK-47 assault rifles, a fully automatic M-16 assault rifle, a bullet-proof vest, various handguns and rifles of assorted calibers, Gardner praised the work of his department in breaking up the gun ring.
This investigation is part of our ongoing collaborative effort to reduce violence in the city of Yonkers, Gardner said. Although shootings are down in Yonkers, we are extremely happy to have taken these weapons off of our streets, as one can only imagine the destruction, devastation and death they could have caused in our community.
The bust was part of a six-month investigation known as Operation Gun Buy.
Gardner said the investigation started in February after members of the street crime unit received a tip about the gun ring. Over the next six months, police said, an undercover police officer purchased the cache of weapons, worth more than $50,000.
Police said the guns were purchased over 30 separate occasions, most of which took place either in a car or on the street in front of 385 McLean Ave. or 25 Knowles St., the home of one of the suspected dealers.
Its a scary sight when you look across this table here, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, scanning the collection of weapons spread out in front of him. I want to say one thing, though. We have the finest police department in all of America, led by the police commissioner.
The three men who police said were the main cogs behind the gun ring were arrested Tuesday after search warrants were executed in Yonkers and the Bronx.
Alvern James, 29, of the Bronx, was charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and fourth-degree conspiracy, all felonies.
Guario Vargas, 33, of 25 Knowles St., Yonkers, was charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and fourth-degree conspiracy. Alvin Wesson, 30, of 55 School St., Yonkers, was charged with fourth-degree conspiracy.
The gun-selling trio was arraigned Wednesday in Yonkers city court. James was remanded to the Westchester County Jail, while Wessons bail was set at $50,000 and Vargas bail was set at $160,000.
This was not the trios first run in with authorities. In March, the same three men were stopped riding in a car in Maryland and were arrested after police found a rifle and handgun in the vehicle. Gardner said that case remains open.
As of Wednesday afternoon, all three remained in custody in Westchester County, Gardner said, adding the group faces serious time.
We feel by taking these three individuals off the streets, we dismantled the operation, he said.
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