Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday has sentenced Tevin OBrian Oliver (30, Homestead) and Jameal Kaia Phillip (31, Trinidad and Tobago) each to four years and nine months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States. The defendants also agreed to forfeit various firearms, ammunition, and related items, which facilitated the offenses. Oliver and Phillip pleaded guilty on April 11, 2023.
According to their plea agreements and factual bases, Oliver and Phillip 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. Oliver and Phillip are both nationals of Trinidad. 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. 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, Florida to Trinidad and Tobago. Authorities in Trinidad seized those firearms and other related items that had been concealed in the shipment at Piarco International Airport on or about April 22, 2021.
“Dismantling this illicit weapons trafficking network makes a significant impact toward lowering crime and gun violence in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kristopher Pagitt. “These sentences demonstrate the commitment of HSI, alongside our federal and Caribbean nation partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, to be steadfast in investigating and shutting down illegal firearms smuggling from the U.S.”
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), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Risha Asokan and Cherie Krigsman.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.