D.A. Vance: Two Indicted for Manufacturing “Ghost Guns” in Manhattan Apartment


August 20, 2021

D.A. Renews Call on D.O.J., Congress to Finish Regulating Ghost Guns

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of FRANCISCO MARTINEZ, 38, and MARIA OVALLES, 29, for manufacturing eight operable, untraceable “ghost guns” in their Hamilton Heights apartment using component parts they ordered online. MARTINEZ and OVALLES are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with multiple counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Prohibition on Unfinished Frames or Receivers, and Possession of an Imitation Pistol.[1]

“As alleged, these defendants turned their apartment into a small-scale gun factory, where they manufactured eight untraceable, deadly weapons with parts they ordered online, and tested their homemade firearms on the rooftop,” said District Attorney Vance. “Ghost guns are no longer an abstract, looming threat – they are here, and we need federal regulation to stop them.”

“Earlier this year, as co-founder of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, I urged the Biden Administration to end the proliferation of ghost guns. In May, the Justice Department proposed a rule to crack down on ghost guns that PAGV and many other gun safety advocates support. Under this rule, gun retailers would be required to run background checks before selling gun-making kits, and gun kit makers would need to include a serial number for certain parts found in firearm kits. The rule would also require federally licensed dealers to include a serial number to any 3-D printed guns they intend to sell. At the same time, Congress should settle this issue once and for all by modernizing the Undetectable Firearms Act with requirements, similar to the DOJ’s new proposed rule, that 3-D printed guns and unfinished frames, receivers, and component parts have serial numbers and that individuals possess a license to manufacture or assemble these weapons.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on June 26, 2021, at approximately 9:45 p.m., MARTINEZ fired several shots from what were later determined to be “ghost guns” from the roof of his apartment building on West 153rd Street. NYPD officers responding to a ShotSpotter activation discovered ten nine-millimeter cartridge casings on the roof of the building, and identified MARTINEZ as a suspect after viewing video surveillance that showed him climbing the stairs to his roof with at least one visible gun. MARTINEZ and OVALLES, with whom he resides, were both apprehended exiting their apartment the next morning.

That evening, NYPD officers executed a search warrant at the defendants’ apartment and recovered eight semiautomatic pistols – none of which were marked with a serial number – as well as two imitation pistols, and more than two hundred rounds of assorted ammunition. Investigators determined that the firearms were all operable weapons that were assembled from component metal and polymer parts that were ordered online from eBay and companies from California and several other states. Multiple build kits and gun manufacturing parts, including firearm magazines, frames, receivers, and other components, were also recovered from the apartment. A microscopic analysis of the cartridge casings recovered from the roof later determined that the ten cartridge casings were a ballistics match to three of the firearms from the apartment.

Assistant D.A. Matthew Thiman is handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Jung Park and Assistant D.A. Christopher Prevost (Chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit). Assistant D.A. Eun-Ha Kim of the Rackets Bureau also assisted with the investigation.

D.A. Vance thanked NYPD Detective Adam Kreitzberg and Officers Joseph Duernberger, andBriant Tineo of the 30th Precinct, Officers Vianca Connor and James Kane of the Evidence Collection Team and Detective Mia Farina of the Police Lab.

 

Defendant Information:

FRANCISCO MARTINEZ

New York, NY

Charged:

  • Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 3 counts
  • Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Prohibition on Unfinished Frames or Receivers, a misdemeanor, 6 counts
  • Possession of an Imitation Pistol, a misdemeanor, 2 counts

 

MARIA OVALLES

New York, NY

Charged:

  • Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Criminal Possession of a Firearm, a class E felony, 8 counts
  • Prohibition on Unfinished Frames or Receivers, a misdemeanor, 6 counts
  • Possession of an imitation pistol, a misdemeanor, 2 counts