Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) and the Suffolk County Police Department announced Sept. 10 the indictment of a Sayville man in connection with an alleged operation to assemble “ghost guns,” which are untraceable by law enforcement, and the illegal possession of other weapons including machine guns, loaded handguns, high-capacity magazines and other ammunition and more than 800 bags of heroin. St. James resident, Leon Jantzer, was among three people indicted in the case.
“This was a dangerous drug dealer assembling ghost weapons in a hotel room right here in Suffolk County,” Sini said. “Had it not been for the police officers’ vigilance, their keen investigative skills, and their bravery in entering that hotel room, there’s no doubt in my mind that these weapons would still be on the streets of Suffolk County.”
Christopher Swanson, 42, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a B felony; two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a C felony; 10 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a D felony; and attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, an E felony.
“I would like to commend the efforts of the 5th Precinct police officers who, while on routine patrol, stopped to investigate a vehicle parked in a handicap parking spot without a permit, which ultimately led to the discovery of a cache of untraceable guns that are extremely dangerous and put everyone’s lives at risk,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “We are making great strides working together with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to take guns and drugs off of our streets and we look forward to our continued partnership leading to more successes.”
At approximately 11:35 p.m. on Aug. 13, a police officer from the 5th precinct was on routine patrol when he observed a vehicle parked in a handicap parking spot without a permit at the Clarion Hotel, located at 3845 Veterans Memorial Highway in Ronkonkoma. The officer determined that the vehicle was a rental car that had been reported stolen after it was not returned to the rental company by Marcella Brako, 39, of Sayville.
Further investigation of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of mail addressed to Swanson. Fifth Precinct police officers determined that Swanson was staying in a room at the hotel and, after identifying themselves as police, were permitted to enter the room by Swanson. Swanson and Brako were inside the hotel room along with a third individual, Leon Jantzer, 42, of St. James.
Upon entering the room, police observed an assault rifle, two handguns, assorted high-capacity magazines and other ammunition and assorted gun parts, according to the DA’s report. One of the handguns was fully automatic, also known as a machine gun. Police also allegedly observed packaging materials consistent with drug sales, including glassine envelopes. A subsequent search warrant was obtained and resulted in the recovery of an additional quantity of ammunition, drug paraphernalia and more than 800 bags of heroin.
The firearms recovered had allegedly been purchased in parts and assembled by Swanson, resulting in their not being registered and not having serial numbers, otherwise known as ghost guns.
“It cannot be overstated how dangerous these ghost guns are, particularly when in the possession of a criminal,” Sini said. “These are homemade weapons built from parts purchased over the internet that are not registered with law enforcement and cannot be traced. They are designed to evade detection by law enforcement and are essentially made to be used in the commission of crimes.”
Swanson was arraigned on the indictment by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William J. Condon. Bail was set at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond. He is due back in court Oct. 8.
Brako was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substancee in the third degree, B felony, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the third degree, an A misdemeanor.
Jantzer was found in possession of a quantity of heroin and was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a misdemeanor. Jantzer’s attorney Brooke Janssen Breen has no comment about her client and the case and would confirm no details.
If convicted of the top count, Swanson faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison.