Two Trinidadians were among three men who admitted to their roles in a Caribbean arms trafficking ring.
A statement issued on Thursday by United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Roger B. Handberg, disclosed that Jameal Kaia Phillip and Tevin OBrian Oliver, both 30, and Edward Soloman King III, 31, of Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Oliver, who lived in Homestead, Florida, and Phillip pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle goods from the US and each face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
King, who pleaded guilty to disposing of a firearm to an alien who had been admitted to the US under a nonimmigrant visa, faces up to 15 years in federal prison.
The three also agreed to forfeit various firearms, ammunition, and related items, which facilitated their crimes.
According to the plea agreements, Oliver, Phillip, and King were part of a ring that unlawfully exported firearms, firearms components – including upper/lower receivers and gun parts kits – and related items from Florida to Trinidad and Tobago between 2019 and 2022.
The firearms, which included pistols and long rifles, and related equipment, were concealed within boxing/fight equipment, speakers, and other household items to avoid detection by law enforcement and customs authorities.
King helped the Trinidadians acquire and transfer firearms in the Tampa area.
Conspirators also acquired firearms from different sellers through straw purchases, falsely representing the identities of the actual purchasers and recipients of the firearms, as well as their ultimate destination.
On or about April 7, 2021, Oliver shipped a package concealing and containing various firearms and related equipment, including a Taurus G2C 9mm pistol, a SAR Arms SAR-9 9mm pistol, a Taurus G3 9mm pistol, and a Ruger Security-9 9mm pistol, from Miami to Trinidad and Tobago.
Authorities in Trinidad seized those firearms and other related items at Piarco International Airport around April 22, 2021.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), including HSI’s Attaché (Caribbean), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security (Transnational Organized Crime Unit) and Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (Special Investigations Unit), US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
It was part of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organisations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.