Recent Crackdown on New York’s Ghost Guns: Battling America’s Untraceable Epidemic

Image of a gun laying on a black table. There are gold bullets in the background
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Image of a gun laying on a black table. There are gold bullets in the background

By Daniella Espinoza

NEW YORK, NY – Following recent mass shootings the U.S., Americans have the topic of gun control at the forefront of politics.

In 2020, through a collaboration between the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the NYPD, and other law enforcement agencies, the Ghost Gun Initiative began with a goal to minimize the presence of ghost guns (aka untraceable weapons) in New York City.

The agencies note “to date, the Ghost Guns Initiative has prosecuted cases involving the seizure of over 70 ghost gun parts, 20 fully assembled ghost guns, 23 serialized firearms, 412 high-capacity magazines, 45 silencers, and other gear including scopes and rapid-fire modification devices.”

Most recently, on April 20, 2022, according to a DA press release, the NYPD executed search warrants on Rene Loyola, a Brooklyn resident. At his personal residence as well as a storage facility unit in Manhattan. They uncovered “weapons, gear, rapid-fire modification devices, and other power tools.”

Specifically, authorities found “more than 30 frames and receivers, nearly 300 high-capacity magazines, and related gear from online retailers.”

Arrested for allegedly purchasing and possessing about $20,000 in ghost gun parts, Loyola found alternative ways to bypass New York’s strict gun laws, said authorities.

NYPD said he was found to have purchased various high capacity magazines from as many as 12 different online retailers. By shipping gun parts to neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, Loyola not only attempted to evade New York authorities, but he allegedly participated in the “polymer pipeline” which entailed him sending such materials out of state and later retrieving them on the date of delivery.

By May 6, 2022, a grand jury indicted Loyola on 235 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and 29 counts of Prohibition on Unfinished Frames or Receivers.

A mere six days later, a Kings County grand jury indicted Loyola for count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree; four counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree; one count of Criminal Possession of a Firearm; one count of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree; one count of Unlawful Possession of Pistol Ammunition; 16 counts of Prohibition on Unfinished Frames or Receivers; and one count of Criminal Possession of a Rapid-Fire Modification Device.

To NY County DA Alvin Bragg, ”it is far too easy for anyone to buy the components needed to assemble a ghost gun. In just a few clicks, gun frames, receivers and high-capacity magazines can be delivered through the mail. While changing technology has enabled the rise of ghost guns, this case also illustrates how the iron pipeline contributes to the gun violence epidemic.”

Bragg added, “New York’s strict laws initially kept these magazines out of our state, but Rene Loyola eventually took advantage of lax regulations elsewhere. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to find and prosecute those who are in possession of these illegal weapons.”

“These guns shoot real bullets. They threaten New Yorkers and our way of life” said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.

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About The Author

Daniella is a fourth year transfer student at UC Berkeley pursuing degrees in both Political Science and Chicano studies. Before Berkeley, Daniella found her passion exploring the complexities of the criminal justice system and how this intersects with the Chicano community. After graduation, she plans to find work in the public sector where she hopes to make meaningful change in her community.

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