For Immediate Release
Union County Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Gun Trafficking Offenses
NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 84 months in prison for gun trafficking offenses, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Mark Hernandez, aka “Skrap,” 26, of Rahway, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to a three-count information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully deal in firearms, unlawfully dealing in firearms, and possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From December 2019 through June 2020, Hernandez and his conspirators, Clifford Behler, 43, and Francis Zyla, 56, unlawfully distributed more than two dozen firearms – including shotguns, rifles, and firearms capable of accepting large-capacity magazines – in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey. Hernandez unlawfully obtained several of those guns and supplied them to his conspirators for redistribution. Hernandez was previously convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun in New Jersey Superior Court and is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Hernandez to three years of supervised release.
Behler previously pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with narcotics and firearms offenses, and was sentenced to a 60-month term of imprisonment in December 2021. The case against Zyla is still pending. The charges against him are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews; special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of William A. Daniel; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
In July 2021 the U.S. Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. Leveraging existing resources, the regional strike forces will better ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C. According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in the New York/northern New Jersey area originate from outside the area. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in the New York/northern New Jersey area with their counterparts in those other locations.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samantha C. Fasanello and Robert Frazer U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.