WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Four persons suspected of being on a weapons-shopping expedition to Florida for the Irish Republican Army were denied bail after a hearing Friday.
The four were arrested on Jan. 12 after allegedly taking delivery of a powerful ground-to-air Stinger missile that they told undercover agents was for use against British military helicopters.
Federal Magistrate Ann Vitunac ordered the four held without bail. Arraignment was set for next Friday.
During the hearing, a federal undercover agent testified that one suspect offered agents a bonus to deliver the missile to Ireland.
U.S. Customs agent Mark Oden testified that the group's weapons expert offered undercover agents, who pretended to be selling the weapon, $10,000 more than the $50,000 they were paying for the Stinger if they could arrange to have it delivered.
Oden identified the weapons expert as Joseph Martin McColgan, 39, who federal prosecutors say flew into West Palm Beach from Ireland to authenticate the Stinger.
The purchase had been arranged in earlier negotiations between undercover agents and the three other suspects in the case, who had told them an expert would be flying in to examine the Stinger.
One of those suspects, Kevin Joseph McKinley, 33, allegedly boasted to agents during the seven-week undercover operation that his cell within the IRA was involved in the attempted assassination in 1984 of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Four people died in a hotel bomb blast in Brighton, England, during a Conservative Party convention. Thatcher and her Cabinet members escaped injury.
McColgan and McKinley, along with co-defendants Seamus Moley, 30, and Sean John McCann, 34, face maximum 30-year prison terms if convicted on charges of conspiracy and arms export violations.