Interstate Investigation Led to Arrest of NJ Woman Keeping Stolen Weapons in Storage Facility
For Immediate Release: March 25, 2023
Office of The Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
New Jersey State Police
– Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent
New York City Police Department
– Keechant L. Sewell, Superintendent
Division of Criminal Justice
– Pearl Minato, Director
Trenton, N.J. – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), and the New York Police Department (NYPD) today announced the seizure of 100 guns and 200 large capacity ammunition magazines (LCMs) that were stolen in transit between a Vermont firearms importer and a Louisiana weapons wholesaler last week. Most of the recovered cargo was found stashed in a Hudson County storage facility. A New Jersey woman has been charged with unlawful possession of the weapons and related offenses.
The recovery of the brand new 9 mm semi-automatic handguns – each equipped with two LCMs – is one of the largest weapons seizures in New Jersey in recent years. The seizure of the stolen cargo, and the arrest of the individual in possession of it, is the result of a fast-moving interstate action between the NJSP Weapons Trafficking North Unit (WTNU) and the NYPD Intelligence Division (Intelligence). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also provided assistance.
“Keeping illegal weapons out of our communities to combat gun violence is a law enforcement strategy that transcends state lines,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Each of the handguns seized was accompanied by two large capacity magazines, which are illegal to possess in both states. Thanks to the quick action and teamwork of detectives in New Jersey and New York, today we are able to announce a major victory in our shared mission to keep our residents safe. ”
“There is little doubt that the 100 guns seized in this investigation would be used for violence and intimidation, and they have no place in communities on either side of the Hudson River,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Thanks to the collaboration between the New Jersey State Police Weapons Trafficking North Unit and the NYPD, the array of illegal weapons seized will never make it into the wrong hands.”
“Our city and region are safer today because of the collaborative effort and exceptional dedication of everyone involved in this investigation,” said New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “This case represents the NYPD’s steadfast work to protect those we serve by stopping the flow of illegal firearms and eradicating gun violence and I want to thank the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and our partners in the New Jersey State Police, the federal ATF, and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for their unwavering commitment to public safety.”
“The potential for these stolen guns to have fallen into the wrong hands was tremendous and I thank the New Jersey State Police and New York Police Department detectives who worked quickly to prevent that from happening,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with law enforcement partners across state lines to keep our state and the entire region safe from the threat of gun violence.”
The investigation into the stolen cargo began on Thursday, March 16, when NYPD Intelligence detectives contacted NJSP detectives with information about a shipment of guns and ammunition believed to have been stolen during transfer from tractor trailer to rail car in Hudson County. Working together, detectives from both states were able to determine that the stolen weapons were being kept in a storage facility on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen, NJ.
The following day, detectives from both NJSP and NYPD executed a search warrant at the storage unit and recovered 97 Canik TP9 Elite SC 9 mm semi-automatic handguns and 194 LCMs packed in their shipping boxes and loaded in cardboard crates. The remaining handguns and LCMs from the stolen cargo were seized separately by detectives.
Surveillance efforts and other investigatory means subsequently led to the arrest of Claudine Kammo, 43, of Union City who had access to and control of the storage unit. Kammo is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of the firearms, third-degree receiving stolen property fourth-degree violation of gun permitting regulations, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of LCMs. New Jersey law prohibits the possession and sale of firearm magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. LCMs allow a shooter to fire an unusually high number of bullets at a time, without requiring the shooter to even pause and reload.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges against the defendant are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Deputy Attorneys General Jesse Magliulo and William Stevens are prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice.
Defense Attorney: Daniel J. Welsh