Ga.-to-NYC gun-running suspect arrested in Macon

Associate PressSeptember 20, 2013 

Winston

A Macon man accused of packing guns in pie tins and socks to ship to New York is behind bars in the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center.

The Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Mark Kudura Winston, 39, on Sept. 12. in Pleasant Hill.

Winston had recently moved from LaGrange to an apartment on Roosevelt Avenue, said Deputy Marshal W.S. Robertson, a task force supervisor.

Marshals were staking out his residence as New York detectives were on their way to Macon.

“By the time they made it to Macon, we had him in custody,” Robertson said. “When he got in his vehicle, we pulled him over and he went to jail.”

Prosecutors say Winston, 39, supplied more than a dozen illegal weapons for sale in New York simply by sending them via express mail.

“He didn’t use a runner. He didn’t typically deliver the guns himself,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Instead, Winston used an “older, less conventional method -- the U.S. mail.”

Together, the Georgia man nicknamed “Koo” and New Yorker Walter “Butta” Dandridge illicitly peddled more than 40 guns over more than a year, not realizing their buyer was an undercover detective, according to Kelly and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

The case marks the latest in a spate of gun-trafficking arrests New York City authorities have made in recent months. A sprawling case unveiled last month involved 19 suspects, 254 guns and allegations of smuggling them from the Carolinas to New York by secreting them in luggage on discount buses.

Dandridge, 35, pleaded not guilty earlier this week to weapons and conspiracy charges. His lawyer, Robert Levy, declined to comment further Thursday.

Winston is awaiting extradition from Macon. Authorities were not immediately sure whether he had a lawyer.

The detective initially bought more than a dozen guns from Dandridge at a Harlem apartment, then was introduced to Winston as Dandridge’s supplier, police and prosecutors said.

Then the guns-by-mail sales began with Dandridge as a middleman before Winston decided to cut him out and ship to the undercover directly, authorities said.

“I’m done with Butta. You’re going to be my guy in New York,” Winston told the detective, according to Kelly.

The baking-tin-and-clothing packaging may have been intended to defeat X-ray machines or other mail-security devices. But Winston supplied his buyer with tracking numbers, which authorities used to intercept the packages, police and prosecutors said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg often assails the flow of illegal guns into the city from other states.

His administration has sued dozens of out-of-state gun dealers, resulting in court-appointed monitoring for many.

Telegraph staff writer Liz Fabian contributed to this report.

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