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Rockland District Attorney: Search Warrant Executed in Clarkstown Leads to Two Arrests and Seizure of Illegal Firearms

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II announced today the arrest of two individuals following an extensive investigation into illegal firearms in the county. The operation culminated in the execution of a search warrant at a residence in Nanuet, NY, resulting in the seizure of multiple illegal firearms and parts.

In May 2024, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office received intelligence about an illegal firearm component being shipped to Nanuet. Detectives from the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Unit, who are also sworn as Federal Task Force Officers with the United States Department of Homeland Security, initiated an investigation into the recipients. The investigation, conducted in collaboration with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the US Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York, revealed that numerous illegal firearm parts were being sent to the Nanuet home of Vivian Wu and Tao Zhang, who has a prior felony conviction from 2015.

On July 2, 2024, law enforcement officials, including the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, HSI’s New York Special Response Team, the Clarkstown Police Department, New York State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, executed a search warrant at the residence. The search uncovered two loaded, un-serialized semi-automatic handguns, three high-capacity magazines, five major firearm components, and a large quantity of un-serialized ghost gun parts. Alarmingly, these firearms were easily accessible to two children, ages 7 and 9, living in the home.

Arrests and Charges:

  • Tao Zhang, 35, of Nanuet, NY, faces multiple charges including:
    • Two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree
    • Two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (for two semi-automatic 9mm pistols)
    • Three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (for three high-capacity magazines)
    • Five counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (for major firearm components)
    • Sixty-five counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (for un-serialized ghost gun parts)
    • Two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child
  • Vivian Wu, 35, of Nanuet, NY, faces similar charges:
    • Two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree
    • Two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (for two semi-automatic 9mm pistols)
    • Three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (for three high-capacity magazines)
    • Sixty-five counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (for un-serialized ghost gun parts)
    • Two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Statements from Officials: District Attorney Tom Walsh highlighted the significance of the operation, stating, “This investigation marks a crucial step in our relentless efforts to curb illegal firearms in Rockland County. Our collaboration with federal and local law enforcement agencies led to the discovery of dangerous weapons and components intended for ghost guns. The arrests underscore our commitment to community safety and our determination to hold those possessing illegal firearms accountable.”

HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo added, “This successful operation showcases the strength of our partnership with the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office and other federal and local agencies. The apprehension of these individuals, particularly a convicted felon, sends a clear message that illegal firearms activities will face the full force of our collective resources and expertise.”

Involved Agencies:

  • Rockland County District Attorney’s Office
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • United States Postal Inspection Service
  • US Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York
  • New York State Police
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
  • Customs and Border Protection
  • Clarkstown Police Department

Tao Zhang and Vivian Wu were remanded to the Rockland County Jail with bail set at $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond, and $200,000 partially secured bond by Judge Leslie Kahn of the Town of Clarkstown. Supervising Assistant District Attorney Michael Peterson and Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Reilly are prosecuting the case.

It is important to note that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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