Merchant of death: Weapons trafficker sentenced to 15 years for Brooklyn gun sales

Booked: A Virginia man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 29 for trafficking firearms in Brooklyn.
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A Virginia man will spend 15 years in prison for peddling southern guns on the streets of Brooklyn.

Jaquan Spencer, 24, was handed the stiff sentence on May 29 after pleading guilty earlier this month to heading a conspiracy that sold 217 illegal firearms in Brooklyn, and his long stay behind bars will serve as a harsh warning to other would-be merchants of death, according to Brooklyn’s top prosecutor.

“Today’s substantial prison sentence... sends an unambiguous message — out-of-state gun runners who threaten our communities with deadly weapons will be found, will be prosecuted, and will be brought to justice for their crimes,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Spencer served as ring leader to a 24-person scheme to purchase weapons on the cheap in Virginia, before smuggling up to a dozen semi- and fully automatic weapons per trip to Brooklyn for sale at a substantial markup, according to Gonzalez.

Once in the borough, Spencer — along with accomplices Damina King, 29, and Levar Shelborne, 31, who were sentenced earlier — would sell their weapons to a Brooklyn buyer, unloading the guns for $800 to $2,200 a piece amid clandestine sales in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Sunset Park, and Boerum Hill, according to the District Attorney’s office.

The crooks allegedly shared their ill-gotten gains with friends in prison, in addition to lavishing themselves with drugs, jewelry, and expensive clothing, according to the prosecutor.

The other suspects involved in the conspiracy — all previously sentenced for their role in the smuggling scheme — acted as ‘straw purchasers,’ legally buying guns in Virginia for the purpose of illicit resale in Brooklyn, Gonzalez said.

The smugglers’ scheme was ultimately spoiled by one key oversight — their Brooklyn buyer was an undercover NYPD detective — and police swooped in to arrest the gun runner and his pals in March 2017, according to a spokesman for the district attorney.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at
Updated 6:37 pm, May 29, 2019
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