Weapons seized during ongoing investigation
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department's newly assigned drug unit continues to investigate the actions of a Savannah businessman selling illegal military weapons to convicted felons.
The investigation has led to the seizure of a large cache of stolen munitions.
SCMPD's Undercover Narcotics Team was working in support of a federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms operation when they recovered 54 rifles, including a belt-fed automatic weapon and parts, 11 pistols, various military scopes, and ammunition.
Officers also recovered 158 Small Arms Protective Inserts and 19 military vests to carry them. The plates, which are used to devise bullet-proof vests, are highly guarded by the U.S. Army and are never to be taken out of military areas.
The probe was launched by ATF against Wesley Defreitas and his company, Warriors Gear, on the 5500 block of Montgomery Street, just outside a gate of Hunter Army Air Field. Defreitas was charged with illegal sales of weapons by federal agents last year, and was out on bond after a federal indictment when ATF, UNIT and SCMPD Explosive Ordnance Device (bomb) Unit officers raided a storage building on April 2.
There, they recovered nine High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) 40 mm rounds; weapons powerful enough to destroy a light-armored vehicle and capable of penetrating two inches of steel.
UNIT, ATF and Department of Defense investigators are working in unison on the investigation in hopes of determining if any more weapons exist, as well as their origin.
Police Chief Joseph H. “Jack” Lumpkin Sr., praised the joint operation as the epitome of UNIT's mission of targeting armed criminals, gang activity and street level drug sales:
“Weapons this destructive never were meant to be in the hands of civilians, and should have been tightly controlled at all times,” he said. “Our understanding is that they were being sold to convicted felons and others in whose hands they would have constituted serious danger to the public. We may never be able to determine how many lives this joint operation may have saved.”
The investigation into the operation is continuing, and additional charges and arrests are expected.
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