For Immediate Release
3 Defendants Charged in Interstate Gun Trafficking Scheme
Arrests and Seizure of 13 Firearms Shuts Down a Pipeline of Illegal Firearms Into New York City
NEW YORK — Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Erin Keegan, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Tommy Kalogiros, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Edward A. Caban, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging Christen Chen, aka “Nauti,” Shaqoya Hall, aka “Q,” and Zachary Hampton, aka “J,” with conspiracy to engage in the unlicensed dealing of firearms, firearms trafficking and interstate transportation of firearms, in connection with their involvement in a scheme to illegally transport firearms from Georgia to New York, among other places, for resale.
Hall and Hampton were arrested on Jan. 30 in New York, New York. Chen was arrested on Jan. 30 in Staten Island. Hall and Hampton were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger and detained. Chen will be presented later today before Judge Lehrburger.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said, “As alleged, these defendants directly contributed to the flow of illegal guns into New York City, endangering communities in this district for little more than financial gain. To anyone who is thinking about illegally selling guns to New Yorkers or illegally bringing guns to New York: we and our law enforcement partners are watching.”
HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Erin Keegan said, “HSI New York’s Violent Gang Task Force worked collaboratively with the ATF and the NYPD to disrupt the alleged iron pipeline of firearms flooding New York neighborhoods. I commend all agencies involved in this vital partnership, which prevented 13 illegal firearms from potentially making their way into the hands of criminals and gang members.”
ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tommy Kalogiros said, “The unchecked flow of weapons onto our streets is a threat to every single person in NYC. These arrests serve as a notice to those who think they are above the law and can illegally traffic guns into our communities. The men and women of ATF NY will never waiver on our commitment to protect the public and to aggressively target firearms traffickers. The proliferation of illegal guns may be continuous, but law enforcement is united and strong. I thank all the members of the ATF NY Joint Firearms Task Force, HSI, NYPD and SDNY for their diligent work and tireless dedication to our shared public safety mission.”
NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said, “When investigating the gun violence that plagues our city, the NYPD and our law enforcement partners always look at how the illegal firearms arrived in the five boroughs and who is selling them here — then we devise and execute a strategy to dismantle those schemes. These latest arrests are a prime example of a great plan coming together. I commend everyone involved in this multi-agency effort, from our NYPD investigators to all of our colleagues at the ATF, HSI and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”
According to the allegations in the complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
From at least in or around September 2023, up to and including January 2024, the defendants worked together to obtain firearms in southern states, primarily Georgia, transport the firearms to New York via car or bus, and resell the firearms in, among other places, New York City (the “Gun Trafficking Scheme”). Over the course of the gun trafficking scheme, the defendants discussed the sale of approximately 40 firearms and successfully sold at least 13 firearms to a confidential informant (the “CI”).
Over the course of the gun trafficking scheme, Hampton and Chen communicated directly with the CI and discussed the potential sale of a variety of firearms including, among other things and as depicted below, semi-automatic handguns, handguns with extended magazines, at least one assault style handgun and at least one rifle:
On three occasions, Chen, Hampton and Hall met with the CI to sell firearms. On or about Oct. 16, 2023, Chen, Hampton and Hall sold one firearm to the CI in Staten Island. On or about Oct. 22, 2023, Chen and Hall sold the CI four firearms in Staten Island. And, on or about Jan. 30, Hampton and Hall were arrested in New York, while attempting to sell the CI eight firearms.
Oct. 16, 2023, Sale
Oct. 22, 2023, Sale
Jan. 30, 2024, Attempted Sale
Chen, 28, of Staten Island; Hall, 24, of Staten Island; and Hampton, 28, of Augusta, Georgia, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit gun trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of gun trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Chen and Hall are additionally charged with one count of interstate travel with intent to engage in gun trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI, ATF and the NYPD.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Nicolas is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The complaint and the description of the complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.