Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Gun bribe - FLA probes middleman in weapons permit racket

Published:Saturday | July 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Shane Dalling, chief executive officer of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), displays a map of Jamaica showing the demand for ammunition among Jamaican firearm and ammunition dealers to members of the media at a press briefing to discuss accountability measures implemented by the FLA. The briefing was held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has revealed that a Manchester resident, who was extradited and convicted in the United States on drug-related charges, is being investigated for aiding and abetting the acquisition of hundreds of firearm licenses by collecting bribes from persons of questionable character.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of the FLA Shane Dalling disclosed that the male who was deported in 2012 after serving time, was himself issued four firearm licenses, having been denied by a previous board that found him not fit and proper to hold a firearm after background checks.

Dalling argued that the Manchester male acted as a middle man and was connected to a former board member of the FLA to facilitate the issuance of the licenses.

"We have received statements from licensed firearm holders who have paid thousands of dollars to secure firearm licenses, and the statements identified this individual from Manchester. We have pulled over 400 files, which either show adverse traces or persons with convictions, and we have taken statements from several of the holders as to what transpired," Dalling reported.

"We have confiscated his four guns and he has given statements. We're in touch with MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-corruption) agency, and the police is carrying out the investigation.

"The Ministry of National Security has been briefed on the matter and no stone will be left unturned in our probe as various convicted criminals, even those convicted for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, mostly from Manchester, were given license firearms," he declared.

Earlier, Dalling said that the authority took a decision this week to revoke the firearm licenses of seven individuals in Manchester.

The individuals in question were at the centre of an investigation by the FLA following requests from a total of nine persons in the parish wanting to purchase more than 108,000 rounds of ammunition. He argued that the request was unprecedented as the volume of ammunition would cost more than $12 million.

"The individuals each requested 12,000 [rounds] to be used within the space of a month. It is unprecedented because we are not used to seeing that sort of request by individuals to use ammunition. We have dealerships who cannot afford to buy 12,000 rounds for the purpose of selling, and we found it suspicious that individuals could afford [to do so]," said Dalling.

He further disclosed that the authority also revoked the licenses of a firearm dealership, an ammunition dealership, and the range which operates in the parish.

"We take the issue of firearm licensing very seriously and the accountability measures that have been put in place have made a lot of persons uncomfortable. But we will not resile from doing what we need to do and will continue to update the public by providing the necessary information," Dalling argued.

The FLA head also stated that the authority had revoked almost 100 gun licences since the start of this year with hundreds more up for revocation.

Dalling further declared that all persons who had licenses were being reevaluated to ensure that they were still fit and proper to hold firearms.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com