July 22, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A gun trafficking ring in Queens has been dismantled after its ringleaders were arrested Tuesday.
Three Queens residents who oversaw the operation were arrested and arraigned Tuesday for smuggling guns from Virginia to New York, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced.
A Virginia man was also arrested Tuesday as part of a 10-months-long undercover investigation that began in September 2019 and is known as “Operation Tiger.”
The gun traffickers allegedly smuggled nearly two dozen guns to Queens. Police confiscated 23 handguns, more than 10 high capacity magazines and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The undercover @NYPDnews officer in this case is a courageous and dedicated public servant. The officer worked through the #COVID19 pandemic without missing a beat. We commend the officer on the valiant efforts.
— Queens District Attorney Katz (@QueensDAKatz) July 22, 2020
The operation was led by Jessica “Cess Milla” Heyliger, 35, of Jamaica, who was the principal dealer of the weapons, according to the criminal complaint.
Laquan Benson, 36, of Richmond, Virginia was her main supplier and Mitchell “Mitxh” Myree, 36, of Jamaica acted as backup. A fourth conspirator, Sharod “Yayo” King, 32, of Woodside, was Heyliger’s alleged salesman, according to the complaint.
Police began their investigation into the crew in September 2019 when an undercover officer allegedly purchased a handgun and two large capacity ammunition feeding devices from King. By December 2019, investigators got the go-ahead to track King’s cellphone.
The undercover officer purchased guns and ammunition from King on 13 separate occasions mostly in and around Astoria.
Heyliger is accused of supplying all the weapons and ammo to King. She got nearly all of the guns from Benson, who bought them online from firearms re-sellers using an alias. The guns were transported to New York City and delivered to Heyliger, according to the charges.
The defendants have been charged with criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy. Three of the four face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Myree faces up to 15 years.
The arrests come at a time when there has been a spike in shootings across New York City.
“With the recent increase in shootings, I am more determined than ever to stop gun violence,” DA Katz said.
“Combating this dangerous rise in gun violence, means cutting off the supply of illegal guns coming into our neighborhoods,” she added. “Each gun removed from the streets of Queens represents a tragedy that has been averted.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea joined the DA in announcing the arrests.
“This case reflects the NYPD’s efforts to stop illegal firearms from reaching New York City’s streets,” Shea said in a statement. “Our NYPD detectives, and law enforcement partners, remain vigilant in our work to keep these weapons out of the hands of criminals where they threaten all of our communities.”