Three Philippine men convicted for importing military-grade weapons, body armor
Three Philippine nationals, including s Filipino customs officer, were convicted on March 4 in Los Angeles of illegally importing automatic rifles, grenade launchers and heavy body armor into the U.S., with the aim of selling them to Mexican drug gangs.
The weapons they tried to import included a rocket propelled grenade launcher, a mortar launcher, an M203 single-shot grenade launcher and 12 Bushmaster machine guns, as well as explosives, including mortars and grenades. Trial evidence, said the Justice Department on March 4, also showed the men also illegally imported “the highest level military body armor” into the U.S.
Sergio Syjuco, 26, Cesar Ubaldo, 27, and Arjyl Revereza, 26, were convicted on March 4 after a four-week trial by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California of conspiring to illegally import the weapons into the U.S. and aiding and abetting the importation of those weapons, according to the Department of Justice.
The men were caught in a sting operation in the Philippines in 2010, but were indicted for the crimes last January.
According to trial evidence, the three plotted to sell high-powered military and assault weapons to a buyer interested in bringing weapons into the U.S. to arm drug dealers in Mexican drug cartels and Mexican Mafia gang members.
In November 2010, Ubaldo met with a prospective weapons buyer, who was actually an undercover FBI agent, and offered to introduce the agent to suppliers of high-powered firearms. Ubaldo subsequently introduced the undercover agent to Syjuco, who supplied the weapons, and Revereza, who was a police officer in the Philippines Bureau of Customs who helped move the weapons through Philippines customs and eventually into the U.S., said the DoJ. The FBI tracked the weapons through the customs process and seized them at the Port of Long Beach in June, 2011.
Syjuco, Ubaldo and Revereza each face a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to import weapons into the U.S., as well as 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for importing of all of the weapons, not including the 12 fully automatic Bushmaster firearms, said the Justice Department.
The men are slated for sentencing in June.
Additionally, said DoJ, Syjuco and Revereza face a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for causing the importation of all of the weapons in this case, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for causing the importation of the 12 fully automatic Bushmaster firearms in this case.