MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The recent arrest of a New Britain man led to the seizure of hundreds of illegal firearms, including ghost guns, which are a growing problem in the state.
State police arrested Steven Gerent-Mastrianni, 39, through an arrest warrant Tuesday following a 10-month-long investigation.
Following his arrest, state police executed search warrants on Gerent-Mastrianni’s home and several of his vehicles. Investigators seized more than 150 items of evidence, including roughly 125 firearms, as well as firearm components capable of making firearms fully automatic.
State police said the firearms included multiple fully-automatic firearms, semi-automatic firearms, shotguns, pistols, pistols with threaded barrels, hundreds of high-capacity magazines, and 30,000-40,000 rounds of ammunition. Also seized was a high-tech 3D printer along with pistol lower receivers that appear to be made with the printer. State police said the majority of these weapons are considered “ghost guns.”
“This guy was an entrepreneur. He had a cottage industry going. He was able to grab raw material, he was able to gather parts, assemble firearms, construct them. He conducted his own testing, distribution and supply,” said James Rovella, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services.
Three homemade explosive devices were also found inside the home. Investigators seized phones, computers, and flash drives.
Gerent-Mastrianni was processed and held on a court-ordered $500,000 bond. He faced a judge Wednesday and is due back in court on May 10.
During a press conference Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont said the current state law that bans ghost guns is not enough to prevent the guns from ending up in the wrong hands.
The current state law requires ghost guns made after 2019 to be registered. Guns made before then were “granfathered” in, meaning many guns were still untraceable. The state hopes the new Gun Tracing Task Force, compromised of multiple agencies across the state, will get more ghost guns off the street.
In New Haven, police have seized 20 ghost guns in the first three months of 2022. In 2021, 15 ghost guns were recovered. In 2020, only three guns were recovered over the entire year.
While the state focuses on tracing ghost guns, cities are working on violence prevention.
The City of New Haven announced a new program that aims to help people who are most likely to use illegal guns more than once.
“We needed to create a place where individuals who may be engaged in these behaviors or engaged in firearm related offenses, also sought an alternative path and that’s what this program hopes to support,” said Mehul Dalal, community services administrator for New Haven.
“We don’t want to put people back in jail. We want people safe, alive, and out of jail,” said Karl Jacobson, New Haven Assistant Police Chief.
The program will combine local, state and federal resources to help people in the community or those recently out of jail.
“People need tangible opportunities to turn their life around and while this program is not a silver bullet that will solve all the problems, it is a catalyst to change how we work as a system by bringing together multiple agencies to bring people and their problems at the center,” said Carlos Sosa-Lombardo, the acting director of the New Haven Department of Community Resilience.