One of the six defendants charged in connection with a Florida-Cayman firearms smuggling operation has been sentenced to time already served and deported from the United States.
Tito Bonilla pleaded guilty in October to one count of the indictment against him. That charge concerned what federal prosecutors in south Florida alleged was a “conspiracy to export firearms outside of the United States”. The other charges against Bonilla were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
According to US federal court records, Bonilla was sentenced to time already served – he was arrested in the US in August 2012 – and a one year term of supervised release. The supervised release term is to be considered “non-reporting” while Bonilla resides outside the US. If he returns to the US within the year term, he is required to report within 72 hours of arrival to the US probation office.
Court records also indicated that Bonilla had “self-deported” on 28 December. He was escorted to the Miami airport by agents of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Court records did not state to where Bonilla was “self-deporting”.
If he had gone to trial, Bonilla might have faced up to five years in federal prison and US$250,000 in fines.
Bonilla was 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). A tentative trial date in February has been set for both men.
Three other unnamed individuals have also been charged in the case, according to records examined by the Caymanian Compass.
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.