Law enforcement officials recently indicted three people for trafficking weapons between Georgia and New York. The charges were brought by a New York prosecutor against a Long Island couple and a Georgia man for criminal sale of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon.

The arrests follow a six-month investigation by the police to prevent the occurrence of violent crimes stemming from illegally purchased weapons. Detectives allegedly purchased handguns, bulletproof vests, and a silencer from the defendants at hotels and a gas station during the investigation. Law enforcement officials estimate that 53 guns were kept off the streets due to the arrests.

The three defendants have pled not guilty to the charges.

Gun trafficking is a major issue in combating violent crime. Criminals often traffic weapons to other jurisdictions for their use in crimes or for sale to the public at large. Criminal “rackets” typically organize large groups of people for making illegal products such as illegally purchased handguns available to the public quickly and in such large numbers that the authorities can’t arrest and prosecute all those responsible.

Weapons trafficking case, because they involve more than one jurisdiction, are prosecuted on both the state and federal level. Those responsible are typically charged with racketeering, or with a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act charge. The government must prove that the defendant operated an organization that performed one or more specified illegal acts.

Anyone accused of weapons possession or trafficking has the legal and constitutional right to a vigorous criminal defense, as well as the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants may question witnesses, challenge the admissibility of evidence, and take other steps to defend themselves against possible imprisonment. Defendants accused of weapons crimes have the right to pursue a possible acquittal or reduction in the charges, and the potential for a legal vindication of their innocence.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “3 Indicted in Ga.-NY gun trafficking case,” April 16, 2013