TRENTON, NJ –A joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Paterson Police Department has led to the arrest of Michael Maresca, 32, a Hasbrouck Heights resident accused of illegally trafficking firearms in Paterson, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Friday.
“In the midst of a pandemic, our detectives are doing all they can to address the scourge of gun violence in our cities,” Grewal said. “A big part of our efforts has been to hold accountable those who fuel this gun violence by trafficking illegal firearms, especially ghost guns, in our state. Law abiding residents don’t need these outlawed, untraceable guns, but they command a high price among criminals.”
The weapons, known as “ghost guns”, are assembled from kits that can be purchased online, not registered, and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace, and therefore harder for law enforcement to solve crimes. Governor Phil Murphy signed a law in November 2018 that makes it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in New Jersey.
According to Grewal, Maresca was arrested Thursday, outside his residence as the result of an investigation that included a search of his home by New Jersey State Police and Hasbrouck Heights Police Department that led to the recovery of:
- 2 assault rifles
- 1 fully operational ghost gun
- 1 complete, but disassembled ghost gun
- 1 partial ghost gun (lower receiver)
- 2 shotguns
- 18 illegal large-capacity magazines
- large amounts of ammunition, including illegal hollow-point and armor piercing rounds
- build kits to make firearms
- 1 pellet gun
Maresca, Grewal said, is alleged to have sold two ghost guns, one of which had an illegal 15-round magazine loaded with hollow-point bullets, to an undercover officer. The sales took place at Maresca’s residence, and each gun was sold for $1,650.
Referring back also to last month’s arrests of 12 alleged gang members said to be manufacturing and distributing drugs in the city, Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice said that the latest arrest is the result of a joint investigation that is part of a series of others “targeting criminal elements undermining public safety in the City of Paterson."
“Getting guns and drugs off our streets is our priority,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said, thanking state officials and all of the law enforcement organizations and agents involved in the joint effort. “This month, as a part of that same partnership, illegal and lethal weapons were seized.”
Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said: “Once again, this is all about our strong partnership with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, that makes it clear, if you assist with, participate in, or profit from bloodshed in our community, we will hold you accountable.”
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