FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Brownsville Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Gun Trafficking
Co-Defendant, a Former MTA Subway Conductor, Sentenced to Five Years for Role in Ring That Transported Dozens of Dangerous Weapons into Brooklyn for Sale via the Iron Pipeline
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brownsville man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a gun trafficking ring that transported dozens of illegal firearms from South Carolina and Virginia for sale on the streets of Brooklyn. A second defendant has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the case while a third defendant has pleaded guilty to criminal sale of a firearm and is awaiting sentencing.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant trafficked dozens of dangerous weapons to sell on Brooklyn streets where they would have undoubtedly contributed to violence. Thankfully, they were intercepted due to the hard work of the NYPD and my prosecutors. This investigation highlights our commitment to ending gun violence in our communities and punishing those responsible for the proliferation of illegal firearms.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Montoun Hart, 50, of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Hart was sentenced today to 15 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice following his guilty plea in July to first-degree criminal sale of a firearm.
A second defendant, Vernal Douglas, 51, of Flatlands, Brooklyn, was sentenced in August to five years in prison by Justice Del Giudice following his guilty plea on June 14, 2022 to second-degree criminal sale of a firearm.
A third defendant, Ira Jones, 44, of South Boston, Virginia, pleaded guilty on August 15 to third-degree criminal sale of a firearm. He is expected to be sentenced on September 16, 2022.
A fourth defendant, Christopher Hodges, 34, of Walterboro, South Carolina, is charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm. His case is pending, and his next court appearance is September 23, 2022
The District Attorney said the investigation spanned from October 2019 to October 2020 and began on information obtained about Hart acting as a gun merchant in Brownsville.
Over the course of the investigation, Hart allegedly conducted a total of 27 controlled gun buys with undercover officers, selling a total of 44 firearms.
Among the numerous firearms recovered were two assault weapons: a German Sport Guns .22 caliber rifle and a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol, as well as a Ruger .44 caliber revolver, a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber revolver, a Springfield Armory 9mm pistol, a Taurus 9mm, a Glock .380 caliber, a Glock 9mm, and a Ruger P89 9mm pistol.
The investigation found that all three of Hart’s suppliers operated independently from one another, but their individual practices were similar: once a supplier obtained a firearm, he would tell Hart the make, model and price via telephone, and often send a photo of it. Hart then passed the details on to his customers (i.e., the undercovers) and scheduled the sale. All of the sales occurred within a block of Hart’s residence in Brooklyn.
Douglas, who at the time was employed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a subway conductor, obtained firearms during trips to South Carolina where he has an address. Douglas also asked his sources in South Carolina to send him firearms via the mail.
According to the investigation, Ira Jones, who lived and operated out of South Boston, Virginia, also traveled up to New York with firearms for Hart to sell in Brooklyn.
Finally, it is alleged, Christopher Hodges, who lives in and operates out of Walterboro, South Carolina, accumulated firearms from a variety of sources and then traveled up to New York via a Chinatown bus company to transfer the firearms to Hart.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Danny Grandstaff of the NYPD’s Firearms Suppression section, under the supervision of Sergeant Matthew Griffin and the overall supervision of Inspector Brian Gill.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Bureau Chief Gillian DiPietro and Senior Assistant District Attorney Nicholas J. Batsidis, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Kate Spota, Deputy Bureau Chief, Jennifer Cilia, First Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Alfred DeIngeniis, Chief.