Michael Bassier was on a roll and proud of it.
He stepped off the bus that had carried him from Georgia to New York, a route dubbed the Iron Pipeline because of its popularity with gun runners, and called an ex-girlfriend to boast.
“You wanna know what I do now?” he said to her in a secretly recorded conversation. “I sell guns.”
Bassier was a regular on the Iron Pipeline, according to prosecutors who announced his arrest this month on charges that could send him to prison for 25 years.
But he was far from the only Pipeline regular, authorities say, and satisfaction over his arrest has been tempered by anger at the ease with which...