US: Record Weapons Bust

Police in New York City arrested 19 people and recovered 254 firearms in the city's largest-ever weapons bust, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.

Sixteen suspects were arrested throughout August during the operation, while three more were already in custody over unrelated charges.

A lone undercover officer purchased weapons from two loosely connected criminal organizations smuggling weapons from North Carolina and South Carolina on buses. Both states have weak weapons laws allowing for criminal activities, Bloomberg said.

The New York Times reports that Earl Campbell of Rock Hill, South Carolina and Walter Walker of Sanford, North Carolina took cheap bus rides to New York to sell both legally and illegally buy weapons.

The weapons seized included fully automatic and high-capacity assault weapons in addition to handguns, models associated with violent crimes. Several defendants were armed when arrested.

Wiretapping during the undercover operation revealed Campbell's trepidation over New York City's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy which allows police to stop and pat down citizens suspected of carrying weapons based on "reasonable suspicion". Critics of the policy believe it unfairly targets minorities, while Bloomberg is appealing a court ruling finding it unconstitutional.