Category: Archive

Florida court jails women for IRA gun-running plot

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

A Florida federal judge has handed a 20-month prison term to an Irish woman who pleaded guilty earlier this year to helping ship arms and ammunition as part of an alleged IRA gun-running plot.

Earlier this year, Dublin woman Siobhan Browne accepted a guilty plea of conspiracy to illegally purchase weapons in Florida to send them to Northern Ireland. She was also sentenced to three years parole and a $25,000 fine, a Miami U.S. Attorney’s office spokeswoman said.

Browne was arrested with three other suspects in July last year after federal investigators discovered weapons in packages mailed from Fort Lauderdale to a British airport.

The others defendants, Anthony Smyth, Martin Mullan, and Conor Claxton, were found guilty in April, after a controversial five-week trial, of buying and illegally shipping weapons from Florida through the U.S. mail.

But they were cleared of the most serious and controversial charges, conspiracy to commit murder and to maim in Northern Ireland and providing material support to terrorists.

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The trial stirred anger among Unionists politicians concerned over a breach of the IRA cease-fire. During questioning, Claxton, who is from Belfast, allegedly told investigators he was working for the Provisional IRA and that the weapons were to be used against RUC officers and British Army. Claxton’s attorney denied his client made those remarks.

Smyth, Mullan and Claxton will be sentenced on August 18, according to the Miami U.S. attorney’s office. All three men had faced life imprisonment for the serious charges, but they will now receive terms of five to 10 years.

During the arrests, federal agents uncovered scores of weapons mailed from Fort Lauderdale in packages disguised as toys and electronic equipment. Most of the weapons were handguns, but investigators also uncovered .50 caliber sniper ammunition.

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