Three Philippine nationals were convicted today in Los Angeles of illegally importing military grade weapons into the United States after being caught in a sting operation that was conducted in the Philippines, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office.
Sergio Syjuco, 26, Cesar Ubaldo, 27, and Arjyl Revereza, 26, each of the Philippines, were convicted 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 United States, and aiding and abetting the importation of those weapons. The defendants were charged in an indictment filed on Jan. 12, 2012.
According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendants conspired to sell high-powered military and assault weapons to a buyer interested in bringing weapons into the United States 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 facilitated the movement of the illegal weapons through Philippines customs and eventually into the United States. The weapons supplied 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. The trial evidence demonstrated that the defendants also illegally imported into the United States the highest level military body armor.
The weapons, which were tracked and safeguarded by the FBI during their shipment, landed in Long Beach, Calif., on June 7, 2011, where they were seized by the FBI.
At sentencing, which is scheduled for June 10, 2013, each defendant faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to import weapons into the United States, as well as 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for causing the importation of all of the weapons, excluding the 12 fully automatic Bushmaster firearms. In addition, defendants 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.
The investigation was conducted by agents and investigators of the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation. Deputy Chief Kim Dammers and Trial Attorney Margaret Vierbuchen of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.