Timeline: Jamaica’s Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Corruption Scandal

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has come under intense scrutiny following allegations of corruption in the issuance of firearm licences to certain questionable characters. The story has ballooned into an uncovering of irregular practices, allegations of bribes and strongarming to get FLA employees to break the law, and, to top things off, an anonymous whistleblower has written a letter accusing several high-level players of promoting and supporting corrupt practices in the FLA. Below, we have chronicled the Gleaner’s coverage of the debacle.

To give some context to the timeline, you should keep in mind Jamaica’s X6 Murder Trial. In this case, businessman Patrick Powell was charged with murder and shooting with intent arising from the death of 17-year-old Kingston College student Kahjeel Mais in July 2011 in Havendale, St Andrew. Mais was a passenger in a taxi that collided with a BMW X6 sports utility vehicle, which Powell was allegedly driving. It was reported that after the crash, the driver of the X6 got out of his car and fired a bullet into the taxi before fleeing the scene. Hence the name ‘X6 Murder Trial’ (called #X6Trial on social media).

Powell, a licensed firearm holder, was asked to hand over his licensed firearm as part of police investigations. He was unable to do so, and the files for the firearm also went missing from the FLA. Powell was later cleared of murder charges after a court case fraught with irregularities. This raised several red flags for members of the public, and a probe was launched into the FLA’s operations. The ensuing scandal is a result of this probe, now being carried out by Jamaica’s Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).

 

November 2, 2016

The new board at the Firearm Licensing Authority has hit the ground running and revealed that businessman Patrick Powell’s file is missing from its offices. According to an investigation carried out by the new FLA board, the last established evidence of the movement of the file was when an officer in the then CEO’s office made a request from the FLA Registry on April 14, 2015.

Patrick Powell firearm file missing from FLA registry


Thursday, June 1, 2017

A senior executive at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) revealed that the agency still has not been able to locate the original file with data related to the gun permit issued to businessman Patrick Powell.

Patrick Powell file still missing, says FLA official


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The chairman of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Dennis Wright says the disappearance of the original file for businessman Patrick Powell caused “some challenges” when the agency began the process of revoking his firearm licence. However, Wright testified in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court that the FLA was able to overcome the challenges.

FLA Chairman Says Missing Firearm File For Patrick Powell Made Revoking Licence Difficult


Friday, July 28, 2017

The People’s National Party Youth Organization (PNPYO) called for the top executives of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) to be sent on leave to allow for an independent review of its operations. The demand wasin light of concern about reported failures in the process to issue firearm permits.

PNPYO wants FLA Board sent on Leave


Saturday, July 29, 2017

More of the alleged shady operations at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), in which guns are reportedly being approved for people of questionable character, are being revealed, with more than 100 cases now said to be under investigation for alleged breaches.

FLA Scandal Widens – 100 Licenses Issued by Gun Authority Being Probed


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Deputy Chairman of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Dennis Meadows is now the subject of a probe by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA). In a release, chairman of the FLA Dennis Wright said he has asked MOCA to initiate an investigation into innuendos being made against Meadows regarding operations at the authority.

FLA Fallout … MOCA to Probe Deputy Chairman Dennis Meadows as he Takes Break from Board


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The entire board of directors of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has resigned amid the controversy over the issuance of gun permit to people of questionable character.

FLA Board Resigns Amid Gun Permit Controversy


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The anti-corruption lobby group National Integrity Action (NIA) is calling for a speedy conclusion of investigation into the scandal-hit Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) after reports of the granting of gun permits to people of questionable character.

Hurry up with Probes Into Scandal-Hit FLA  -[says] NIA

Outspoken Trelawny churchman, the Reverend Devere Nugent, has flayed the political system for the imbroglio now engulfing the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA). According to Nugent, the way the boards of state agencies are appointed by the Government is to be blamed for the controversy at the FLA.

FLA’s Failure… Prompts Calls for New Approach to Appointing State Boards

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has renewed its call for the Government to fast-track proposed changes to the appointment and structure of public-sector boards. According to PSOJ President Paul Scott, the need for this change is important, in light of the recent controversy surrounding the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) board.

PSOJ Calls For Fast-Tracking Of Public-Sector Boards Accountability Framework


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Police investigators are narrowing down on key employees at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) in an expanding corruption probe at the scandal-hit agency, which remains without a board.

MOCA Hits Mark! Agency Focuses on Key FLA Employees; Explosive Letter Alleges Rampant Corruption


Saturday, August 20, 2017

As the probe deepens into the questionable granting of gun permits by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), there are more indications emerging that the stench of corruption has engulfed the entity for many years.

FLA’s Folly! Convicted Criminals, Friends of Board Members Granted Gun Licenses Under Questionable Circumstances


Monday, August 21, 2017

Opposition MP Peter Bunting has rejected suggestions that while he was National Security Minister, the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) granted gun permits under questionable circumstances.

Bunting defends previous FLA Board, Accuses JLP of Playing Politics


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Peter Bunting, the opposition spokesman on national security, is on the defensive, now claiming that the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), while under his watch as national security minister, did not corruptly grant licences.

Bunting on the Defensive After Confronted with FLA Bombshell

Two senior members of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) were separated from the agency with immediate effect as the investigations into corruption at the state agency continued.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two senior members of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) were separated from the agency with immediate effect yesterday as the investigations into corruption at the state agency continued.

New FLA Fallout! Two Senior Staff Members Axed as MOCA Probes 257 Suspect Firearm Licences 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Gleaner Columnist Mark Wignall weighs in on the FLA corruption scandal: In the early 2000s, before the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) was formed (2005), a set of drug dealers and politically connected thugs were extradited to the US. Almost all of them had gun licences. The last going price I heard just before the FLA was put in place was $250,000 a pop. … With recent revelations coming out of the FLA, it does appear that not much has changed in the corruption template.

Mark Wignall: Firearm Licensing & Corruption


Friday, August 25, 2017

A recommendation has been made for the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) to put a stop to investigators taking applicants’ files with them into the field for verification even as new documents emerge of a senior policeman supporting a convicted man’s push to get back his firearm.

Corruption Spree! FLA Allowed Investigators to Travel with Applicants’ Files; Snr Cop Pushed for Convicted Man to Get Gun

National Security Minister Robert Montague says a new board is to be appointed for the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) soon.

New FLA Board to be Named Soon

The National Security Ministry is reporting that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has received credible reports of death threats against former Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Board Chairman, Dennis Wright; CEO, Shane Dalling and former acting CEO, Lincoln Allen.

Death Threats Against FLA CEO, Former Officials


Monday, August 28, 2017

MOCA issues a statement detailing the timeline of activities since the unveiling of the firearm permit scandal, the FLA reform agenda, and giving information on the process by which a new board will be selected.

TIMELINE: The FLA Controversy


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) is reporting that it has now found a file linked to the X6 murder case.

Three former employees of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) who were recently dismissed from the embattled agency are to bring a claim against the authority for wrongful dismissal.

News that former head of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Major General Anthony Anderson, is tipped to take over the Chairmanship of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), has received a thumbs up from at least one professor at the University of the West Indies.

Clayton: Anderson is an Inspired Choice for FLA Chairmanship


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) is working with the police in a house-to-house search for licensed firearm holders who have failed to present their guns for inspection, renewal and certification.

FLA Goes Hunting – Agency Seeks 3,000 Licensed Firearm Holders Not Certified During Recent Amnesty


Friday, September 15, 2017

Greater scrutiny now applies to all government agencies that fall under the banner of national security, such as the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).

Greater Scrutiny For FLA And All Other National Security Agencies


Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – Cabinet approves new board

Cabinet appoints a new FLA board, including the former chairman.


Monday, February 12, 2018 – Patrick Powell leaves prison

Patrick Powell, the man whose case started the FLA saga, is released on Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018 after serving six months out of a nine-month sentence.

Patrick Powell Released from Prison