Four men, at least two of whom are from Cayman, have been charged in US federal court in connection with separate firearms-related incidents.
According to federal court indictments obtained by the Caymanian Compass, three of the men are accused of conspiring to smuggle firearms into the Cayman Islands via a freight forwarder in Broward County, Florida.
The fourth man is charged with illegally possessing a .40 calibre Glock semi-automatic pistol as a non-immigrant alien having been admitted to the United States.
It was unclear from court records whether the two indictments had any connection to each other.
Special Counsel to the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Alicia Valle said the three men charged in the guns shipping case pleaded guilty in August. Their sentencing date is set for early November.
According to federal court records, David Gilbert Lyons, Mitchell Anthony Brown, and Brittanio Jermie Walton each face five counts in the indictment alleging they conspired to ship firearms, attempted to export firearms, delivered firearms to a common carrier without notice, attempted to ship firearms with obliterated serial numbers, and possessed firearms with serial numbers obliterated.
Federal court records indicated that Mr. Lyons travelled from Grand Cayman to Miami on 2 April to meet up with Mr. Walton and Mr. Brown.
On 10 April, the charge alleges that the three drove to Pennsylvania to obtain firearms and returned to Miami about four days later.
Attempting to cover up what they were shipping, the federal court indictment alleges that the three men went to a Home Depot store in Hialeah, Florida to buy light fixtures, ceiling fans, a hedge trimmer, and a window air conditioning unit.
Two days later, court records charge that seven boxes containing the items bought at Home Depot were delivered to a freight forwarder in Port Everglades, Broward County, Florida.
‘All (the items) concealed firearms and ammunition,’ the indictment stated.
The indictment did not specify the amount of weapons and ammunition the three men were attempting to ship. The items were merely described as firearms, ammunition, and gun parts.
The case falls under federal jurisdiction in the US because federal law states that no ‘defence articles or defence services’ can be exported from the US to a foreign country without a US State Department licence.
Four of the counts the three defendants face carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The other count, attempting to export firearms, carries a maximum 10-year term.
The indictment does not mention who the weapons were shipped to in the Cayman Islands. However, firearms importation charges have been filed locally in connection with a case that involved the recovery of several imported handguns earlier this year.
Ms Valle said the US Attorney’s Office in Miami did not have any public records pertaining to that case. Royal Cayman Islands Police have repeatedly refused to comment on any aspect of the gun transhipment investigation.
Gun possession charge
In the separate indictment, Marvin Matthew Watson has been charged with possessing a firearm in the US ‘which had been transported in interstate or foreign commerce’ in violation of US law.
According to court records, a jury trial in the case was due to start earlier this month. But the US attorney’s office could not provide details.
If convicted, Mr. Watson could face up to ten years in US federal prison for possession of a firearm by a non-immigrant alien.