The Brooklyn DA recently announced the latest in several busts involving unregulated bus companies operating in Chinatown.

Chen Zhang for World Journal

Some of the firearms seized in the recent bust.

This article originally appeared in World Journal.

Translated by Rong Xiaoqing

The New York Police Department recently cracked a cross-state gun trafficking case and found suspects from South Carolina have been using Chinatown intercity buses for a long time to smuggle weapons into the city.

Officers from the 5th precinct said some unlicensed Chinatown bus companies have become hotbeds for such crimes.

Police officers from the 5th precinct said that Chinatown buses have been used for not only trafficking guns but also illegal drugs and cigarettes. The buses only accept cash for tickets and have no passenger record, making them ideal hotbeds for illicit activities.

The officers said the bus companies at 95 Canal Street and 103 Canal Street, which are owned by the same group of people, are among such unlicensed bus companies. The license of a previous bus company these people owned was revoked in 2018 after its bus fatally hit a clerk of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. But the buses are still in operation.  

Officers from the 5th precinct have been issuing tickets to the operators at these two locations, but the owners don’t seem to care. Officers said other than guns, the police also found illicit drugs and smuggled cigarettes on these intercity buses. These illegal products were from places around the country and they all ended up in New York.  

About 70 percent of trafficked guns arrive in New York from the South via the so-called “iron pipeline,” the interstate 95 highway. They’ve contributed a lot to the gun violence in the city.

Police commissioner Dermot Shea and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said this is not the first time Chinatown buses have been used by crime groups for gun trafficking.
In March 2017, police and the Manhattan district attorney’s office cracked a case in which hundreds of guns were trafficked between South Carolina and New York via Chinatown intercity buses that offered low fares. They arrested six suspects. In 2016, eight people were arrested for trafficking 112 guns from Georgia and Pennsylvania to New York. And in 2014, eight suspects were indicted after trafficking more than 70 guns they purchased at a gun show in Florida to New York.