One of the suspects at the centre of the ongoing Florida-Cayman gun smuggling investigation agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to one of seven counts in a United States federal court indictment filed against him, according to court records.
According to Count 1 of the federal indictment against Mikkyle Brandon Leslie, known in Cayman as Brandon Leslie Ebanks, he “did knowingly and wilfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with persons known and unknown … to knowingly and wilfully deliver and cause to be delivered to a common carrier … a package or container containing a firearm and ammunition without written notice to the carrier that such firearm and ammunition was being transported and shipped … and did knowingly and fraudulently export, attempt to export, and send from the United States to a place outside the US, that is, the Cayman Islands, merchandise, articles and objects, that is, firearms and ammunition, contrary to the laws and regulations of the United States …”
In return for the guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment, the US government agreed to dismiss Counts 2 through 7 in the charge, after Leslie is sentenced on 26 April.
The US district court could impose a sentence of up to five years with a supervised release period of an additional three years. However, prosecutors noted that they would seek to reduce the sentence “based upon the defendant’s recognition and affirmative and timely acceptance of personal responsibility”.
“The defendant is aware that the sentence has not yet been determined by the court,” the documents stated.
Both Leslie and his attorney, Bruce Fleisher, signed the plea agreement Wednesday with Assistant US District Attorney Michael Walleisa.
The stipulated facts for Leslie’s plea agreement were set out in court records filed Thursday.
“Agents from the [US] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received information from law enforcement officials in Grand Cayman that a group of individuals located in the Miami, Florida, area were involved with individuals in the Cayman Islands in smuggling firearms and ammunition from the United States to Grand Cayman.
“Through investigation ATF agents identified several individuals including: Mikkyle Leslie aka Brandon Ebanks, Michael Ebanks, Brittanio Walton, Mitchell Anthony Brown, Howard Antonio Edwards aka Michael Bell, Marvin Watson, Ashley Watler, Rochelle Holness, Robert Terry, Andrew Campbell, Andrew Thompson and Kyle Santamaria aka Santana, Tito Bonilla and Michael Henry as participants in the firearms smuggling activities.”
Two of the individuals named in the court records, Robert Terry and Michael Timothy Ebanks, were charged and jailed locally in connection with various gun smuggling and possession-related activities. A number of others were charged in the US including Leslie, Walton [in an earlier investigation], Watson, Terry, Santamaria, Bonilla and Henry in connection with gun smuggling activities. Others named in the court records were not charged either locally or in the US including Edwards, Watler, Holness, Campbell and Thompson.
The document setting out the stipulated facts of Leslie’s plea agreement has been attached to today’s story on www.cayCompass.com.
Three men were named earlier this month in a US federal court indictment in connection with what American authorities said was the 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, were handed up against Robert Terry, Marvin Matthew Watson and Kyle Santamaria.
Those three men are charged along with Leslie, Alexander Michael Henry [referred to above as Michael Henry] and 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.
Terry, who is already jailed in Cayman in connection with a firearms possession charge here, is charged in three counts with 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.