The take-down of a massive, 33-defendant gun- and stolen motorcycle--trafficking ring began last spring, when a single Yamaha was stolen from TriBeCa.
It took 17 months -- but a joint, NYPD, Manhattan DA investigation has now busted a ring responsible for some 300 motorcycle thefts, accounting for half the bikes stolen in the city in the past year, authorities said today.
"The streets served as outdoor showrooms where the crews went shopping," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a press conference today.
Motorcycles would be loaded into vans -- often themselves stolen -- disappearing in a matter of seconds.
"Some stolen motorcycles were sold intact, some were dismantled and sold in Guyana and Trinidad and other Carribean countries and Senegal in Africa."
Only 63 of the motorcycles were recovered, along with 17 guns -- all sold to under covers, authorities said. Four of the guns were assault weapons.
"These criminals have a magic act, they would make motorcycles disappear and guns appear on the streets of our city," Kelly said.
The highly-organized enterprise included vehicle escorts which would divert attention from the getaway vans by driving erratically if cops were spotted. One of the perp's own grandmothers acted as a lookout, officials said.
The value of the 63 recovered motorcycles alone topped $500,000, said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, whose Rackets Bureau is handling the prosectution. More than half of the defendants in the case -- including accused ringleader Selwyn Mills, 22.