Two Cayman Islands men charged in a Florida-to-Cayman gun smuggling investigation between 2011 and 2012 have not been sent to the U.S. to face charges more than three years after a criminal case was brought against them.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said Monday that it believed American authorities had not sent an extradition request for the two suspects, Marvin Matthew Watson and Kyle Santamaria, and directed queries to the office of the director of public prosecutions for further information.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran declined to comment on individual cases involving extradition.
“Whether or not another state requests extradition is a matter for the requesting state,” Mr. Moran said. “When such requests are made to this jurisdiction, they are generally dealt with in confidence. We cannot confirm whether such requests have or have not been received in an individual case.”
According to U.S. court records in the Southern District of Florida [Miami], three Cayman Islands residents still face charges in the gun smuggling investigation, known locally as the “guns in the fridge” case, and will be arrested if they enter the U.S.
Robert Terry, Watson and Santamaria were charged along with Mikkyle Brandon Leslie, Alexander Michael Henry [referred to in some records as Michael Alexander Henry] and Tito Bonilla during a period between late 2011 and early 2012. Bonilla pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to transport firearms and was deported from the U.S. All charges against Henry were eventually dropped. Leslie pleaded guilty in February 2013 to one of seven counts in a U.S. federal court indictment. He was sentenced in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to 46 months in prison with an additional three-year period of supervised release.
According to count one 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 U.S., 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 one of the indictment, the U.S. government agreed to dismiss counts two through seven in the charge against Leslie, who might have faced 20 to 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Terry is serving a 12-year sentence in the Cayman Islands on a conviction relating to possession of a weapon that U.S. authorities believed to be part of the Florida-Cayman gun smuggling and which was used to fire shots at the home of former Cayman Islands Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale in 2010.
Watson and Santamaria are still believed to reside in the Cayman Islands.
Although some details of the Florida-Cayman gun smuggling operation were reported by the Cayman Compass as early as 2009, the full extent of the investigation was not known publicly until the newspaper obtained a probable cause affidavit filed by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators in early December 2011.
That document, required to be filed so officers could arrest Leslie, named roughly a dozen other individuals who U.S. authorities believed played some role in the gun smuggling operation. The affidavit does not amount to criminal charges against those named individuals. Several individuals named in the document have never been charged in either the U.S. or the Cayman Islands.
However, statements made in the document indicate the named individuals – most of whom are Caymanians – “were identified as participants in the firearms smuggling activities.”
The original indictment against Leslie also names several other individuals in recounting what U.S. authorities believe to have occurred with the gun smuggling case during 2008.