Accused NYC Cop Shooter Says Gangs Delivering Guns Into Migrant Shelters

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

It should already be evident to anyone with a pulse that New York City's gun laws are doing a much better job of stopping lawful residents from getting ahold of a gun than preventing felons, juveniles, and other prohibited persons from illegally acquiring a firearm, but testimony from a young migrant accused of shooting two New York City cops shows just how easy it is to bypass the state's draconian gun laws. 

According to Bernardo Raul Castro Mata, the 19-year-old facing a litany of criminal charges in connection with the shootings, a Venezuelan gang is helping to arm migrants by smuggling guns into the taxpayer-funded shelters that have become home to about 65,000 individuals. 

The gang in question is Tren de Aragua, which is estimated to have about 5,000 members in both Latin America and here in the U.S. Mata reportedly admitted to police that he's a member of the gang, and says one of his compatriots was responsible for giving him a gun to use in robberies. 

He told cops he worked for DoorDash, and received the gun he used to shoot police from a friend who had stashed it in a bag – a scheme that gang members used to get weapons past security at taxpayer-funded migrant shelters, prosecutors said. 

“Tren de Aragua members are smuggling firearms into city shelters in food delivery packages – that way they don’t have to go through the metal detectors,” Castro Mata squealed to police after turning on the crew, the recordings show.

Mata also said it’s common for Tren de Aragua crooks to “shoot at police” because Venezuelan cops “shoot gang members for minor infractions.”

The shocking revelations came as Castro Mata, a homeless Venezuelan migrant who illegally entered the US last year, was arraigned on a whopping 20-count indictment handed down by a Queens grand jury.

If what Mata says is true, then New York's "sensitive places" are even more of a joke than I thought. What's the point of having metal detectors in place if they're routinely bypassed by delivery folks? For that matter, why on earth are DoorDash deliveries being made to these shelters in the first place? 

While Mata's allegations have not been confirmed by authorities, they are taking his claims seriously. 

The now-admitted gang member’s defense attorney, besides entering a not guilty plea, only spoke during the hearing to ask that Castro Mata — who was carted into the courtroom in a wheelchair, with his lower right leg bandaged and a hospital tag on his wrist — be placed in protective custody.

Judge Kenneth C. Holder granted the request, signaling that Mata’s statements against the bloodthirsty Tren de Aragua potentially made the migrant a target. He also ordered Mata held without bail. 

When asked if the statements being read into the record put the bullseye on Mata, District Attorney Melinda Katz nodded as she told The Post.

“We’d like to make sure that he comes to trial,” she said. “And is held accountable for attempted murder of two counts, against the police officers.”

I don't have an issue with Mata being placed into protective custody, but what about everyone else who could potentially be a target of Tren de Aragua gang members looking for an easy mark to rob? What's the city doing to protect them? More importantly, what's the city doing so they can protect themselves?

The answer, sadly, is as little as possible. The NYPD Licensing Bureau won't even say how many carry permits have been approved this year, but attorney Peter Tilem, who represents a number of gun owners who've patiently waited for the department to do its job, says lengthy delays are the norm, not the exception. 

Tilem said he tells his clients to stay informed.

“They have to know what the law is and have to be up to date on any changes in the law,” he said. “The law is changing remarkably rapidly right now.” 

But Tilem said the NYPD is not moving as quickly as it faces a deluge of license applications. He filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of gun owners in New York and New Jersey who say the police department’s licensing criteria are “impossible to meet” and the process takes too long.

The lawsuit argues delays in the NYPD’s licensing division have unconstitutionally prevented people from exercising their Second Amendment rights in New York City. The NYPD declined to comment after Tilem filed the lawsuit.

I know that New York City will never be as 2A-friendly as, say, Texas or West Virginia. But when it's exponentially easier for illegal immigrant gang members to get a gun illegally than it is to purchase or possess a gun lawfully, that's pretty strong evidence that the gun laws in question aren't just failing... they're violating our right to keep and bear arms.