Three Long Islanders have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to sell untraceable assault rifles known as “ghost guns” which are weapons built from spare parts—the first such case in New York State, authorities said.
Thomas Weber, Antonio Himonitis and his wife, Diana Collins, were charged Thursday with criminal sale of a firearm and conspiracy. Himonitis and Collins were also charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly assembling the guns while a child was in their Suffolk County home.
“Ghost guns are the next frontier of illegal firearm trafficking,” said State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “The allegations against these defendants show just how easy it is for criminals to make completely untraceable, military-grade firearms.”
Prosecutors alleged Himonitis and Weber hatched the plot while serving prison time together. Then Himonitis and Collins ordered gun parts from different firearms manufacturers nationwide and used them to assemble at least a dozen “ghost guns.”
An undercover investigator met with Weber while the suspect was incarcerated at Nassau County jail, where Weber allegedly said that he and Himonitis could acquire AR-10 rifles that would sell for $5,000 each, prosecutors said.
The day that Himonitis was released from jail in May, the investigator met with him at a hotel in Uniondale, where they set up the purchase of 12 fully-functional “ghost guns” over a two-month span, authorities said.
The key component involved in the weapons’ assembly is the lower receiver, the part of the gun that fires the bullet and the only gun part that is considered a firearm under federal regulations. The suspects in the case allegedly ordered incomplete lower receivers that are only considered a piece of metal. Then they modified the parts with a special tool so the firearms were fully functioning, according to investigators. Such firearms lack serial numbers, making them an untraceable “ghost gun.”
The joint investigation with state police and the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force was dubbed “Operation Ghostbusters.”
The trio is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Suffolk County court. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.