For six months, Christopher McPhaul allegedly sold 30 firearms to a Brooklyn man who seemed to be an eager customer. So much so that McPhaul would reach out to the man when he returned to New York with a fresh supply of weapons, according to prosecutors, who say that McPhaul texted the man in code: “Have a lot of toys for the kids, I’m back, a little $2500 will take them all!”
The customer, it turned out, was an undercover officer with the NYPD’s Firearms Investigations Unit. And over those six months, police tracked McPhaul making trips to North Carolina “to replenish his supply of weapons” before returning “to Brooklyn a short time later to make the sale,” according to a statement from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.
Earlier this month, police arrested McPhaul. Today, Brooklyn prosecutors announced that they had indicted him on more than 100 charges related to illegal gun trafficking.
McPhaul, 43, had been on the NYPD’s radar for years. He’d been arrested for selling multiple firearms in Brooklyn in 2003. After pleading guilty in 2005, he got 60 days in jail and three years’ probation.
But apparently, he continued his illicit business. Between April 1 and September 6, McPhaul made 10 separate sales to the undercover officer, according to prosecutors. Among the 30 firearms were rifles, revolvers, and pistols. He also sold ammunition.
He trafficked the weapons “primarily in Brooklyn,” Mia Goldberg, spokesperson for the Kings County D.A., tells the Voice.
“That these guns came to New York City through the iron pipeline should not come as a surprise considering 90 percent of crime guns recovered in the five boroughs come from out of state,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
McPhaul, Goldberg says, has listed residences in Brooklyn and North Carolina–a common commute along the iron pipeline.
This summer city officials held a press conference–complete with charts and color-coded maps–showing where the guns in NYC come from. In 2011, 255 of the firearms that NYPD recovered from crimes came from North Carolina–only Virginia, at 322, exported more here.
In August, police arrested two men who, combined, allegedly sold more than 200 guns to undercover officers for more than $150,000. One of the men was from North Carolina, the other from South Carolina. Authorities said the men smuggled them north aboard those inexpensive Chinatown buses.
In October 2012, Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes announced that NYPD had seized 154 guns over the previous year or so. Police traced many of the firearms to other states, including South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Maryland.
The indictment against McPhaul lists more than 100 counts. The top charge is criminal sale of a firearm, which carries a 50-year maximum prison sentence.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2013