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Cops posing as Manhattan gun dealers bust gun traffickers

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Two gun traffickers were indicted for selling assault weapons, ammunition and large capacity magazines, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the New York City Police Department announced on Thursday.

The indictments represent the 18th and 19th gun trafficking indictments by the District Attorney Office's Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit, taking away 875 illegal guns from New York City streets.

"Any crime prevention effort has to include stopping gun traffickers from giving young people easy access to dangerous weapons," District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said in a statement.

From February to September 2013, Javon Burgess, 36, known as "Black," sold 26 guns along with ammunition and large capacity magazines to an undercover police detective. The firearms, which were sold at roughly $1,000 per weapon, included a Tec-9 assault weapon and other semi-automatic pistols. Most of the weapons were sold in broad daylight. Five of the sales occurred near the entrance of the Bronx Zoo.

Paul Lee, 24, known as "Gangsta," sold 13 guns to another undercover police detective from May to December 2013. The weapons, sold at $550 to $900 per gun, included a sawed-off shotgun and an AP-9 assault weapon. He sold the weapons in East Harlem or near Co-op City in the Bronx, some of them taking place in broad daylight.

Burgess and Lee were charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy.

"These indictments underscore the proliferation of illegal firearms that stretch from the south to our city, thus creating the 'Iron Pipeline' and the community gun tactic used by criminals," Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a statement.

Since the DA's Office established the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit in 2010, prosecutors obtained 25 convictions for criminal sale of a firearm in the first or second degree — an increase of 1,150 percent from two convictions on these charges during the previous four-year period, according to the DA's Office.