A Brooklyn woman was charged in federal court with a five-count indictment of conspiring to illegally traffic 18 guns, and other illegal materials such as drugs, into the borough.
Ariana Charles was indicted Wednesday and formally charged under the gun trafficking provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, enacted in 2022 by both Congress and President Joe Biden — the first legislation of its kind to directly tackle gun trafficking in the US.
Charles was also slapped with three narcotics-related charges including the distribution of cocaine base — also known as crack cocaine — and the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. About 150 people die each day from overdoses related to fentanyl in the US.
Authorities say Charles engaged in this criminal activity from March to August of 2022. She was arrested Wednesday morning and appeared in the US District Court of the Eastern District of New York that same afternoon.
“As alleged, the defendant brazenly trafficked firearms and deadly drugs to the streets of Brooklyn, feeding the cycle of gun violence and drug abuse endangering our community,” said Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in a statement on Jan. 10. “This Office will not relent in its efforts to keep the community safe by investigating and prosecuting those who seek to profit from the proliferation of guns and fentanyl which have destroyed so many lives.”
According to the court documents, Charles allegedly conducted a personal firearms sale to an undercover law enforcement member in and around the New York City Housing Authority’s Breukelen Houses in Canarsie.
Additional illegal transactions occurred outside apartment buildings and shopping centers, allegedly in broad daylight. Numerous firearms were allegedly purchased in both Georgia and Virginia before their subsequent transport to New York.
The undercover law enforcement officer allegedly told Charles and her co-conspirators that he was a drug dealer who was going to “flip” or resell the weapons and drugs that were sold to him. One such firearm’s serial numbers were defaced to make it difficult for law enforcement to trace the weapon.
Charles also allegedly sold semi-automatic firearms. Additionally, Charles also allegedly sold illegal narcotics including fentanyl and crack cocaine with the fentanyl allegedly sold in the form of disguised Oxycodone pills.
“Today’s indictment underscores the destructive threat that illegal guns and drugs continue to pose on the streets of New York City, as well as our unwavering commitment to delivering public safety and improving quality of life in every community,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “Together with our partners at the DEA and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, NYPD investigators remain dedicated to this critical mission.”
Charles faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.