|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a Trenton man was sentenced to prison today for selling an assault rifle with a fully loaded large capacity magazine to a cooperating witness during an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police targeting weapons trafficking in the capital city.
Jameel Harris, aka Riley Harris, 32, of Trenton, was sentenced to five years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Mark J. Fleming in Mercer County. Harris pleaded guilty on March 16 to second-degree unlawful possession of an assault firearm.
Harris was charged as a result of an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police into gun trafficking in Trenton called Operation Gravedigger, which resulted in four indictments charging a total of 11 Trenton residents in connection with sales of 16 firearms, including three assault rifles, five other rifles, five handguns and three shotguns. Harris sold a sawed-off Olympic Arms AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle – including a large capacity magazine loaded with eighty-four .223 rounds – to a cooperating witness for $1,200 on May 14, 2012 in the vicinity of the 200 block of Hamilton Avenue in Trenton.
Deputy Attorney General Cassandra Serentino prosecuted Harris and took his guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Daniel I. Bornstein represented the Division of Criminal Justice at the sentencing.
“It’s hard to overstate the harm that can be inflicted with an assault rifle of the type the defendant sold, loaded with 84 rounds,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We will continue to work aggressively to lock up those who traffic guns into violence-torn communities like Trenton.”
“Working cooperatively with the State Police and other law enforcement partners, we will continue to use New Jersey’s tough gun laws to prosecute weapons traffickers like this defendant,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These efforts to fight gun crime and make our neighborhoods safer are a top priority for the Division of Criminal Justice.”
Harris is one of 57 defendants indicted last year in an initiative launched by Attorney General Chiesa in which the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police are aggressively targeting gun violence through strategic investigations focused on seizing existing weapons in violent areas, disrupting weapons trafficking into those areas, and aggressively prosecuting criminals involved in the illegal sale and possession of weapons. Most of the defendants are subject to the strict penalties applicable to Graves Act gun convictions, requiring mandatory periods of parole ineligibility. Last year, the State Police Intelligence Section more than doubled the number of detectives assigned specifically to weapons trafficking, forming new Weapons Trafficking North and South Units and tripling annual gun seizures by the section.