At least two additional shipments of concealed firearms sent from south Florida to the Cayman Islands in late 2008 and early 2009 arrived in Cayman and were not seized upon entry, according to US federal court records.
The revelations came in a decision issued Monday by US District Court Judge Robin Rosenbaum in the southern district of Florida. Judge Rosenbaum ordered Mikkyle Brandon Leslie, aka Brandon Leslie Ebanks, detained until trial. Leslie – who was just released this month from prison in the Cayman Islands after having a murder conviction against him overturned – was nabbed on 6 December at Miami International Airport by US Marshals.
Leslie is charged by way of criminal complaint with conspiracy to transport firearms and ammunition in interstate and foreign commerce, as well as conspiracy to export firearms from the US to Grand Cayman. A federal grand jury set to hear his case later this month will decide whether to hand up indictments.
“The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that [the defendant, Brandon Leslie Ebanks] represents a danger to the community,” Judge Rosenbaum wrote in a seven-page decision ordering Leslie held up until and through the conclusion of a criminal trial.
The court estimated sentencing guidelines for the offences alleged against Leslie at between 63 and 72 months imprisonment.
The judge’s order, in setting out its reasons for holding Leslie in prison, gave details of two heretofore publicly unknown incidents in which illegal firearms were believed to have been shipped to Grand Cayman.
Those incidents occurred on separate dates from the 13 November, 2008, ‘guns-in-fridge’ case that led to Leslie’s arrest at the airport in Miami. Both unknown firearms shipping incidents occurred before a failed attempt to send firearms from a freight forwarder in Broward County Florida to Grand Cayman in April 2009. That case led to four Caymanian men being convicted and serving time in US federal prison.
Complete details of both firearms shipping investigations can be reviewed in Monday’s newspaper article “Feds investigate US-Cayman firearms smuggling ring”. The article can also be found online here.
According to the US District Court judge’s order: “On July 6, 2008, defendant [referring to Leslie] purchased a refrigerator from ‘Brandsmart’ in Miami, Florida.
[An individual the Caymanian Compass is not naming] delivered a refrigerator to Thompson Shipping in Miami on September 11, 2008, for delivery to [another individual] in Grand Cayman. The refrigerator arrived in the Caymans on approximately September 28, 2008.
“The refrigerator was not seized, but after its arrival [an individual who is not being named by the Compass], saw that the refrigerator had cut-outs in its insulation to house firearms. [The individual] further observed guns that had been sent in the refrigerator in a separate bag.”
The individuals whose names have been left out of the court order by the Compass are being withheld for legal reasons and to protect any witnesses from potential retaliation.
US federal court records go on to describe how Leslie and other individuals purchased a number of firearms in Florida – at least 13 weapons between May and December 2008 – some of which were shipped to Cayman in the refrigerator recovered by Customs officials on 13 November, 2008.
However, there are details of another weapons shipping incident in the court order that occurred in early 2009.
“On January 26, 2009, defendant [referring again to Leslie] bought a .40-caliber Beretta Storm semi-automatic pistol in Miami-Dade County. On February 2, 2009, defendant and alleged co-conspirator Marvin Matthew Watson purchased a .45-caliber Encom America semi-automatic pistol and a .38-caliber Taurus revolver in Broward County,” the court order read. “Between the January and February purchases on January 31, 2009, Watson had travelled to Miami from Grand Cayman.
“Surveillance video from Home Depot reflects that on February 5, 2009, defendant [again, referring to Leslie] and Watson bought a vacuum cleaner, two lamps, two ceiling fans, duct tape, gloves and other items from a Home Depot store in Hialeah. The next day, defendant and Watson made a similar purchase at a Walmart store in Hialeah. This transaction also appears on surveillance video.
That same day, defendant and Watson cause boxes containing several of the items purchased from Home Depot and Walmart to be shipped from Port Everglades to Grand Cayman. The boxes contained concealed firearms. [An individual who is not being named by the Compass] stated that he helped unload the boxes upon their arrival in the Caymans.”
The court order details how Marvin Watson was arrested in March 2009 in possession of a .40-calibre Glock – a charge which led to him pleading guilty on federal charges in late 2009 and serving a prison sentence.
Judge Rosenbaum, in the decision to detain Leslie, made reference to the fact that he is a dual citizen of the US and the Cayman Islands.
Leslie apparently lived in Florida during a brief period of 2008-2009.
“The United States argues that defendant [referring to Leslie] constitutes a serious risk of flight,” the judge wrote. “Defendant is a nearly lifelong resident of the Caymans and may enjoy citizenship there. He also has significant ties to the Caymans and lacks any such ties to the United States.”
The judge ordered Leslie to be held without bond.