Cousins busted in ‘Iron Pipeline’ gun trafficking ring that brought weapons from Ohio to NYC

Queens DA/New York Daily News/TNS
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More than 100 illegal firearms, including 20 deadly assault rifles, were recovered by agents who dismantled an interstate gun-smuggling ring that shipped high-powered weapons to New York City from as far away as Ohio, officials said Monday.

Included in the haul were 139 high-capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition destined for city streets and playgrounds, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who announced the arrests of three suspects in connection with the takedown.

“We are fighting the gun plague with all our might and resources, on the streets and in the courts,” Katz said at a news conference where the arsenal was on display. “We have seen shootings in 2023 decline 28% in the city and 34% in Queens. That is of little comfort, however, to the more than 1,000 victims of shootings across the city this year.”

Arrested were Ahmed “Taju” Mutalib, Abdul Haruna, and Murtala Haruna, who are all cousins. They were indicted by a grand jury on 575 counts charging them with criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, conspiracy and money laundering.

They each face up to 25 years in prison and are due back in court on Nov. 9.

According to Katz, investigators learned of the trafficking activity from a confidential tip to the DA’s office and the NYPD in March.

Using wiretaps and undercover buys over the course of seven months, authorities connected the suspects to a trafficking operation that moved guns and ammunition from the Midwest via the notorious “Iron Pipeline.”

Authorities said the cousins were recorded discussing the purchase, transport and sale of multiple firearms. Detectives said they witnessed Murtala Haruna and Mutalib coming out of a Cincinnati townhouse carrying large boxes to a U-Haul truck during an operation they had allegedly discussed in several phone calls about selling guns.

Authorities said the investigation included a series of undercover buys in the parking lot of a P.C. Richard & Son in Astoria.

According to a federal study, 93% of guns used in New York City crimes are from out of state, triple the national average.

Southern states with lax gun laws are the most common source of firearms in New York City crimes, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

The percentage of out-of-state guns used in New York City crimes far exceeds that of second-place Baltimore, where 61% of guns used in crimes originated out of state, the ATF data shows.

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said the recent gun bust underscores some disturbing truths:

“Illegal guns proliferate and circulate in many neighborhoods that still need our help,” he said. “Every day the men and women of the NYPD perform incredibly dangerous work to prevent these firearms from getting into criminals’ hands.”

Mutalib, 32, is from Decatur, Georgia. Abdul Haruna, 27, is from the Bronx. Murtala Haruna, 30, is from Cincinnati.