A Caymanian man accused in a gun smuggling ring that operated between Grand Cayman and south Florida between 2008 and 2009 has been sentenced to nearly four years in United States federal prison.
Mikkyle Brandon Leslie was sentenced before Judge Robin Rosenbaum Monday in Fort Lauderdale following a plea deal his attorneys reached with federal prosecutors earlier this year. Leslie could have faced between 20 to 30 years in prison if he had gone to trial and been convicted.
Instead, a sentence of 46 months was handed down, along with a three-year term of supervised release.
The court recommended that Leslie be assigned to a prison in Florida. It was also recommended that he participate in an alcohol/drug abuse programme while there. Leslie has been in US federal custody since his arrest in late 2011 and it was not immediately stated whether he would be given credit for time already served.
Leslie pleaded guilty in February to one of seven counts in a US federal court indictment.
According to Count 1 of the federal indictment, Leslie “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 against Leslie.
The US district court had the option to 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 stipulated facts for Leslie’s plea agreement were set out in court records filed in February.
“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 … 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 weapons possession-related activities. A number of others were charged in the US including Leslie, Brittanio Walton [in an earlier investigation], Marvin Watson, Terry, Kyle Santamaria, Tito Bonilla and Michael Alexander Henry. Some of the suspects had already been charged in sealed indictments from the US district court, southern district of Florida. Charges in the superseding indictment, which generally covers alleged gun smuggling activities between 2008 and 2009, were made public relatively recently 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 Alexander 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. All charges against Henry were eventually dropped.