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Home » News » Crime

February 27. 2014 10:01PM

Agent says alleged gunrunner used Granite State post office


MATTHEW CRISAFI 

BRENTWOOD — A Hampton man charged with illegally selling firearms through an underground Internet marketplace allegedly brokered his first transaction with an undercover federal agent by sending a firearm from the New Castle post office to a location in Thailand.

Investigators believe Matthew Crisafi, 38, of Hampton used the post office in the small island town — about 14 miles from his home — to avoid detection from law enforcement, according to a search warrant.

Crisafi agreed to sell a Smith & Wesson .380 semi-automatic handgun in May 2013 after spending weeks negotiating with an undercover federal agent posing as a buyer on the underground web marketplace "Black Market Reloaded," according to a search warrant affidavit.

Investigators compare the BMR online marketplace — only accessible via specialized software — to a version of eBay or Amazon that sold weapons illegally.

Crisafi was paid $3,300 in Bitcoin for that first transaction, but unwittingly sent the gun to an address affiliated with an undercover operation being carried out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Special Agent Ryan Landers said in a sworn affidavit.

Once Crisafi sold his first gun to his unknown buyer, he agreed to sell three more firearms, which included a Glock Model 26, a KelTec .32 caliber semi-automatic handgun, and a Norinco SKS 7.62 semi-automatic rifle.

He offered to sell all three weapons for $8,500 total, investigators said.

Crisafi, who owns an independent trucking company, arranged to ship the weapons through New Jersey en route to Thailand, according to Landers.

The deals were communicated between the agent and Crisafi through an online private messaging system.

Landers said on May 29, Crisafi suggested to his new buyer that he could broker further deals, saying in part, "the possibilities are endless once we do enough business."

According to the affidavit, Crisafi also told investigators during his online chats that he would be willing to sell military-style, semi-automatic rifles to his buyer, but that they "would need to take additional precautions during shipment in order to evade detection by law enforcement officials."

The next day, court documents state he sent a follow-up message to the undercover agent saying, "I was going to mention that shipping overseas through a ship rather than a plane gets through customs a lot easier than by plane (because) the cargo that goes on a plane is much more scrutinized than by a boat."

"I am very confident I can get you a few at a time without raising suspicion," he also wrote, according to the affidavit.

Crisafi continued to pitch other potential gun sales and prices while speaking with the undercover investigator in early June, court documents say.

"I want to make your customers happy along with a profit," he allegedly wrote.

Crisafi is now trying to broker a plea deal in U.S. District Court in New Jersey — three months after his arrest by Hampton police and federal authorities.

He also faces two counts of possession of a controlled drug in Rockingham County from the Nov. 7 raid on his home.

Police seized quantities of marijuana and steroids while searching Crisafi's home on Esker Road, according to court records.

He is free on $50,000 bail, pending his next court date.

jkimble@newstote.com


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