Death merchant

Death merchant

Jamaican gunrunner sentenced to 57 months in US prison was planning more shipments

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 07, 2020

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A Jamaican who, not satisfied with shipping at least 15 guns and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition to Jamaica in 2017, was planning to ship several more before he was held by United States law enforcement agencies, based on leads from Jamaica's Counter Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigation Branch.

When US law enforcers stormed the Jamaican's house in St Petersburg, Florida in February last year, they found almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition being prepared for shipment to Jamaica.

In fact, parts of two AR15-style rifles, an M16-style rifle, two AK47-style rifles, two shotguns, 23 firearm magazines plus other firearm parts were stacked against the wall of a bedroom with bags of flour, rice, and sugar also ready to be sent to Jamaica as part of a major arms and ammunition racket.

Yesterday, Jermaine Rhoomes, otherwise called “Jermaine Rhoomas”, “Craig Hall”, “Kreig Hall”, and “Cow”, was sentenced to 57 months in prison in the United States District Court of the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, after he agreed to a plea deal in September last year.

In handing down the sentence, US Federal Judge Susan C Bucklew blasted Rhoomes for his role in fuelling the gun crime in Jamaica, and imposed close to the maximum sentence applicable under the law.

This followed a statement to the court by Jamaica's Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, who noted that while Jamaica remains an idyllic island in the sun, the violence has forced the Government to impose several security measures.

Llewellyn further pointed out that the more than 3,000 bullets shipped to the island by Rhoomes, which were seized by local police on the wharf on July 20, 2017, could have led to 3,000 more lives being lost in Jamaica.

In the plea deal, US prosecutors noted that on March 28, 2016, Rhoomes, using the alias Craig Hall and a false address, sent a shipment from Coral Springs, Florida, to Jamaica, which he described as an amplifier.

On March 30 of the same year, he sent another shipment with the same identification information and declaration.

However, packaged with the audio equipment were a Ruger pistol, an AR15-style assault rifle, and four magazines for high-powered weapons.

The prosecutors further noted that Rhoomes received a payment through a money transfer company from an individual in Jamaica, who was the intended recipient of the weapons and ammunition before they were sent off.

While the plea agreement did not name the person who paid Rhoomes the money, the possibility of a further reduction in his sentence exists if he cooperates with law enforcement agencies to bring the individual to justice.

The plea deal also noted that on or about July 13, 2017, Rhoomes, using the alias Roy Ricketts, a false address and a false phone number, sent a shipment to Jamaica which he described as food.

This shipment was intercepted by local authorities and found to contain 15 firearms, (Jamaican authorities reported 19), including two AK47-style rifles, five AR15-style rifles and four 9mm pistols, among other guns, and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

“Most, if not all, of the firearms had been partially disassembled, wrapped in green cellophane and commingled among common food items like bags of flour and sugar,” the plea deal reported.

Following the seizure of the gun and ammunition shipment by the local authorities, Rhoomes was reportedly asked, by someone familiar with the scheme, what to tell the individuals in Jamaica who had ordered the guns, and what would happen to the remaining guns he was to ship to the island.

“Man, I don't have any of those things beside me right now, you know. I got rid of all of them right now… You need to tell every man that they have to wait… Right now some things have gotten f@#$ and everything is on lockdown,” Rhoomes is reported to have said.

It was further reported in the plea deal that between July and December 2017 Rhoomes talked to others about shipping more guns and ammunition to Jamaica, and how to hide them from law enforcement agencies.

“My thing bust… because certain man do not keep their mouths shut… This is how they knew something was supposed to come in,” Rhoomes reportedly said.

“I am going to tell you how to do them — break them in two, wrap them up,” Rhoomes is said to have added.

Rhoomes has reportedly agreed to cooperate fully with US law enforcement agents to identify and prosecute others involved in the illegal guns ring.


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