Suspect in guns case held until trial

The third man arrested in the United States in connection with a Grand Cayman-Florida gun smuggling operation has been ordered held in prison until trial.  

The suspect, Tito Bonilla, is charged along with five other people in the alleged gun running ring that shipped dozens of weapons into the Cayman Islands from south Florida between 2008 and 2009.  

According to US federal court records made public last week, a magistrate judge in Florida ruled that “no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the appearance of the defendant [Bonilla] as required and/or the safety of any other person and the community”. Bonilla, identified as a citizen of the Cayman Islands, is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling firearms and ammunition and delivering firearms and ammunition to a common carrier without notice.  

He faces anywhere between five and seven years in prison if convicted.  

Bonilla is charged in the same US court indictment as Caymanians Mikkyle Brandon Leslie and Alexander Michael Henry (identified earlier by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service as Michael Alexander Henry). Three other unnamed individuals have also been charged in the case, according to records examined by the Caymanian Compass. 

Bonilla pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court earlier this month. 

About a dozen people, most of them Caymanians, are named in court records as having played some part in a gun-running operation between south Florida and Grand Cayman that occurred during 2008 and 2009. Not all of those individuals have been charged in US federal court. At least two, Michael Ebanks and Robert Terry, have been charged and sentenced for various gun related crimes in the Cayman Islands; crimes that have some connection to the Florida gun shipping case.  

According to US court records, Bonilla entered the United States on 11 August on a visa that had been revoked by the Customs and Border Protection agency based on outstanding arrest warrants related to the firearms shipping case. He could face a jail sentence of between five and seven years if convicted and US prosecutors have asked that he be kept in prison until trial.