Three more men have been named in a United States federal court indictment in connection with what American authorities said was a conspiracy to illegally transport firearms between south Florida and Grand Cayman.
The suspects had already been charged in sealed indictments from the US district court, southern district of Florida. However, their names were only released last week when the charges were unsealed.
Charges in the superseding indictment, which generally covers alleged gun smuggling activities between 2008 and 2009, have been handed up against Robert Terry, Marvin Matthew Watson and Kyle Santamaria.
Those three men are charged along with Mikkyle Brandon Leslie, Alexander Michael Henry and Tito Bonilla, who were named previously in US federal court records. Bonilla has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to transport firearms and was deported from the US. Henry’s trial in the US is set for later this month. Leslie is scheduled for a “change of plea” hearing before the district court on 13 February.
Terry, who is already jailed in Cayman in connection with a firearms possession charge here, is charged in three counts with alleged conspiracy to defraud the US/smuggle firearms, smuggling firearms and ammunition into the US and interstate shipments – delivering firearms and ammunition to a common carrier without notice.
Watson, who was previously jailed in the US on a separate firearms-related charge, also faces three counts concerning firearms smuggling, conspiracy and interstate shipments of firearms.
Santamaria also faces three counts concerning conspiracy, smuggling firearms and interstate shipments of firearms.
With the full scope of the US federal court indictment now revealed, federal prosecutors have been able to make public a complete timeline concerning the alleged firearm smuggling activities between south Florida and Grand Cayman that they said occurred between May 2008 and March 2009.
Other individuals from the Cayman Islands were named in connection with these activities, but for whatever reason, they were not indicted in US federal court. An indictment is only an accusation of illegal activity and does not constitute a conviction. Only one of the six defendants in this case, Bonilla, has pleaded guilty and faced sentencing thus far.
According to US federal court records, Terry picked up a refrigerator in Grand Cayman that had firearms hidden within it on 29 September, 2008 with another individual identified in the indictments as “J.F.” Terry then allegedly delivered the fridge to co-defendant Tito Bonilla where the two removed the concealed firearms. Prior to its mention in US federal court records, information about this guns shipment had never been made public in the Cayman Islands.
Federal court records further allege that Leslie and Terry knew they were being watched by US authorities.
According to the indictment: “On or about 28 January, 2009, defendant Leslie sent a message on MySpace to defendant Terry. Defendant Leslie asked defendant Terry to send the contact number and company name [for the guns shipment]. Defendant Leslie further stated ‘from clean line … feds!!!’”
Watson is alleged to have purchased a .45 calibre semiautomatic pistol and a .38 calibre revolver, along with Leslie, in Broward County, Florida on 2 February, 2009. The two then allegedly purchased vacuum cleaners, lamps, ceiling fans, and other items from a Home Depot store in Hialeah, Florida that were later allegedly used to hide guns that were shipped to Grand Cayman.
On 13 February, 2009, it is alleged that Watson and Henry obtained the weapons shipment after Watson returned to Grand Cayman. The boxes containing the Home Depot items had been shipped to Henry in Grand Cayman, US prosecutors alleged. The weapons were taken to Watson’s residence after they were picked up, prosecutors said.
In October 2008, Santamaria, along with Leslie and an unnamed “co-conspirator” are alleged to have purchased a refrigerator from Brandsmart, USA in Miami, Florida, which prosecutors allege was later used to ship five firearms, 800 rounds of ammunition and two weapons’ magazines to Grand Cayman. Another man, Michael Timothy Ebanks, was arrested in Grand Cayman trying to pick up that shipment from customs when it arrived in November 2008.