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Suspected gunrunner got two firearm permits – sources

The man arrested on suspicion of being a major gun supplier to the underworld was issued two firearm permits despite a drug-related conviction in the United States (US), top law-enforcement sources have disclosed.

His name is being withheld by The Gleaner and no criminal charges were laid against him up to late Monday.

However, law-enforcement insiders, including high-ranking police officials, have described him as a “very dangerous figure” who also leads an extensive drug-trafficking syndicate and the muscle behind the St Elizabeth-based Nineties Gang.

For decades, he was able to elude local authorities because of the significant power he wields, one senior law-enforcement insider claimed.

“This man is very powerful … . One of the biggest firearm traffickers in the country. He has a lot of people in his pocket, from law enforcement, to military people, to politicians, you name it,” the insider charged.

The police suspect that the detainee is the mastermind behind a shipment of 21 guns – three rifles and 18 handguns – and a large quantity of assorted ammunition that were intercepted at a warehouse in Kingston in March.

The suspected crime boss was issued a permit in 2013 for a 9mm pistol by the Errol Gregory-chaired board of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), a source told The Gleaner on the condition that their name not be published because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the agency.

Two years later, he was also issued with a permit for a shotgun, the source revealed, noting that both applications were accompanied by letters of recommendation from a pastor and a justice of the peace (JP).

Police records show that he was deported to Jamaica on March 29, 2009, after serving a two-year prison sentence in the US for a drug-related conviction.

The suspected arms dealer is believed to be among the more than 200 people with criminal convictions or adverse traces who FLA Executive Director Shane Dalling said were granted gun licences between 2014 and 2017.

“During the period where persons were getting gun licences under questionable circumstances, everybody made money from it,” Dalling told journalists during a press conference held on February 15 this year.

Dalling declined to comment on the latest case.

It is unclear whether the FLA was aware of the conviction at the time the permits were granted and there is no indication that he ever purchased the shotgun, according to multiple sources.

Senior cops also confirmed that the suspect has been on the police radar for more than a decade because of his alleged involvement in various local and transnational crimes.

“Significant efforts have been made locally and internationally to apprehend him. Finally, we have caught up with him,” a source said.

One senior law-enforcement official was incensed to learn that the suspected crime boss and arms dealer had been issued a gun licence.

“Why a man like that have a firearm permit who was deported and a suspected gang leader who is (allegedly) involved in so many crimes?” the official questioned.

The suspect was apprehended at a party in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on Sunday by cops assigned to the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigations Branch, the police confirmed in a statement.