PHILADELPHIA - A total of 13 people have been arrested in connection with a string of burglaries at gun stores in Montgomery and Bucks Counties, according county officials.
Montgomery County DA Kevin R. Steele, Bucks County DA Matthew Weintraub, ATF officials and the Springfield Township Police Chief announced the arrests of two adults and 11 juveniles related to three burglaries and an attempted burglary of gun stores.
Officials say 33 firearms that were stolen have been recovered by law enforcement, while 60 firearms remain unaccounted for on the streets.
According to police, two adults and two juveniles, all from Philadelphia, were charged, including 40-year-old Angel Mason, an unnamed 16-year-old, 22-year-old Donte Purnell and 18-year-old Liv Hall.
Angel Mason, 40, faces charges connected to thefts of firearms from Pennsylvania gun stores.
Authorities say nine teens from West Philadelphia, who range in age from 14 to 17, were charged in juvenile court. Due to their age, officials have not released their identities.
Law enforcement officials say the three burglaries and one attempted burglary occurred between September 24, 2022, and November 20, 2022. All occurred between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., per police.
In each robbery, the group got into the gun store, broke glass display cases, grabbed numerous guns and fled, the DA's said.
Founding Fathers Outfitters - Montgomery County
Police say the first burglary occurred on September 24 at 4:22 a.m., in which 26 firearms were stolen. Authorities say one of the guns from the burglary was used in Philadelphia shootings, including one that was deadly.
Six guns stolen from the Springfield Township gun store have since been recovered, authorities say.
Officials say a 2020 Kia Forte that was stolen from Philadelphia was used to get to and flee the scene.
Target World Gun Shop - Bucks County
On November 12 at 4:20 a.m., 32 pistols, eight rifles and one suppressor were stolen from the New Britain Township gun store, according to law enforcement.
Ten firearms from the burglary have since been recovered, police say.
Continental Armory - Montgomery County
On November 20 at 2:15 a.m., the suspects attempted to burglarize a gun store in Hatboro but were interrupted when someone who heard breaking glass called 911, officials say.
Tanners Sports Center - Bucks County
On November 20 at 2:41 a.m., 27 firearms were stolen from the Warwick Township gun store, per police.
Authorities say one of the stolen guns was used in a robbery in Pennsauken on December 14.
Police say 16 of the guns stolen from the store have since been recovered.
Law enforcement officials say the investigation revealed several members of the neighborhood-based Philadelphia street gang known as "54th Street" were responsible for the burglaries. Police say the gang is commonly involved in several crimes, including carjackings, robberies, burglaries and gun violence, especially toward rival gangs.
Investigators say the 93 stolen guns were quickly distributed and illegally transferred between members of the gang to others and used to commit crimes.
Law enforcement learned several of the 33 firearms recovered, several were used to commit a crime, including an armed robbery in Philadelphia on September 26, a deadly shooting at 54th Street and Willows Avenue in Philadelphia, where a 16-year-old was fatally shot in the head, and a 14-year-old was injured, and an armed robbery in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
"These defendants brazenly broke into gun stores and stole nearly 100 firearms, then sold and transferred them widely throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware," said District Attorney Steele. "With 60 firearms unaccounted for, we still don't know the extent of the damage by this corrupt organization's criminal activities, including shootings and murders."
Charges for the 13 people involved vary, but all include felony charges related to operating a corrupt organization, conspiracy, robbery, theft by unlawful taking, and more.