Florida-Cayman gun running suspect pleads guilty

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. 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Parents remember there is always a consequence to pay, if you let your children have their way. To all of you young men involved in this, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Look at how many deaths we have had because of the firearm in Cayman. I do hope that all of you will think seriously about what you were doing, and I do hope all parents will keep a close watch on their children activities. It begins in the home.

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  2. @fair and balance.

    Not many people would be up front to agree with you because they like to point to other reason why young men turn to crimes and sadly they often blame it on the Jamaicans. One poster even went as far as saying it is the Jamaicans taught their children to be involved in serious crimes. and sometimes when serious crimes are committed you hear they look like or sound like Jamaicans. The fact is that These children are spoiled brats. They come to believe that society owe them something without they work for it. I hope this will be a warning to those who contemplate antisocial acts in the society in the future. Time will eventually catch up with you and parent who keep saying society is mean and crude to the youths, tell the ATF, DEA and the US Government that.

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  3. I think parents need to find out why the kids joined a gang. Did they join to get rich? Was it the easy life? Weren’t they frightened when their friends got threatened or shot. What was their incentive? drugs? selling guns?
    Did they work? Were they hanging around watching TV or video games? Did they always have money ? Did they give you money?
    These are things you need to know and watch for . You need to watch ,what are their interests and friends. Good luck

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  4. Cayman should give every citizen a gun to carry. I guarantee you the crime rate would drop and the idiots robbing banks woud think before pulling guns when everyone in the bank probably had one too. Seems to work very well in Texas.

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  5. @brh – if that is true then why don’t you have low crime rates in the U.S. where you have the right to bear arms? Why is the gun homicide rate per capita in the U.S. 30 times that of Britain and Australia?

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  6. @Mr.Islander – I think you will find that Jamaicans are ‘blamed’ for crimes and introducing criminal culture in many countries, including the UK, Canada and the U.S.

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  7. @fairbalanced: What a ridiculous assumption. I read the paper regularly and I don’t hear anyone blaming Jamaicans for crime in Cayman, except of course for the murders and drug running some are locked up for.
    But if their behavior in Jamaica is any example I am glad that is not brought to Cayman, with 1500 killing in Jamaica last year, and well on their way to break last year records this year.

    Jamaica pointed to the US for the reason their country was flooded with guns, and asked officials to do something about it. When it was reported in this paper, I said; Cayman would also benefit if the US acted, and it looks like we are benefiting. I give credit to the US authorities for catching these criminals.

    There was a report recently of three Jamaican Nationals being caught importing drugs and ammo, I did not hear an outcry from Caymanians about that.. But if you need to use a Cayman negative to put a positive spin on Jamaicans, go right ahead. I give Jamaicans abroad positive points for the impact they have on their country economy, by working hard and sending their hard earned money home.

    Guilty! Take your medicine and come back home when it is over, everyone makes mistakes.

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