Magazine article The New Yorker

MAGNUM P.I.S; CONTRABAND DEPT. Series: 4/5

Magazine article The New Yorker

MAGNUM P.I.S; CONTRABAND DEPT. Series: 4/5

Article excerpt

West Nile fever and bedbugs behind us, the city was rife last week, after the back-to-back murders of the policemen Dillon Stewart and Daniel Enchautegui, with talk of another plague: illegal guns. Twenty thousand uniformed officers showed up for each funeral, Mayor Bloomberg challenged legislators to "stand up and start doing something about this terrible scourge," and the Post introduced a special logo featuring a compact pistol and the words "The Gun Menace."

Amid this burst of activity, Jim Mintz, a private investigator, was working quietly behind the steel doors of his Tribeca office. Mintz is the principal of the James Mintz Group, a firm whose employees include former officials from the F.B.I., the N.Y.P.D., and Scotland Yard, and which has helped such institutions as Reebok, Morgan Stanley, the Beatles, and Ivana Trump unearth, as Mintz once wrote, "dirty little secrets." About a year ago, Mintz was hired by the city to assist with its anti-gun lawsuit, which seeks to hold gun manufacturers and distributors responsible for turning a blind eye to the illegal gun trade. Mintz's task is to trace the flow of firearms into New York City.

"It's I-95, on down," Mintz said, sitting at a conference table. "You drive to North Carolina or Georgia and find a person who has a driver's license--you can buy ten or fifteen guns at once." (Ninety-two per cent of the illegal guns recovered in New York City between 1998 and 2003 were from out of state.) For the past few years, investigators have been gathering information on the gun shops that sell weapons to New York traffickers. Eric Proshansky, a lawyer for the city who is working on the suit, chimed in: "They're often mom-and-pop stores out in the woods."

Mintz got up and walked over to a giant chalkboard. "Here's what happens," he said, and began to draw a flowchart. "You have the manufacturer, who trucks the boxes over to the distributor, who delivers the guns to the dealer, a store, or a pawnshop. In walks the straw man." He explained that a straw man is a person to whom a criminal pays twenty-five or fifty dollars to buy a gun on his behalf--a more sinister version of the underage drinker's "Hey, Mister" procurement scheme. The straw man is often a woman. "It could be an attractive woman, or a woman on welfare who needs the money badly," Proshansky said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.