Philippine Nationals Sentenced for Importing High-powered Weapons into the U.S.

Los Angeles, California - Three Philippine nationals were sentenced in the Central District of California for illegally importing machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, a mortar launcher and military-grade ballistic vests into the United States, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Sergio Syjuco, 27, Cesar Ubaldo, 28, and Arjyl Revereza, 27, each of Manila, the Republic of the Philippines, were found guilty by a federal jury on March 4, 2013, of conspiring to import military-grade weapons illegally into the United States and aiding and abetting the importation of those weapons.   On February 26, Ubaldo was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and Revereza was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.   On Feb. 25, 2014, Syjuco was sentenced to serve 84 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.

According to information presented in court, 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.   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 illegal weapons through Philippines customs and eventually into the United States.   The weapons included a rocket propelled grenade launcher, a mortar launcher, a single-shot grenade launcher and 12 Bushmaster machine guns, as well as explosives including mortars and grenades.   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 on June 7, 2011, in Long Beach, Calif., where they were seized by the FBI.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, Secret Service and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation.   Trial Attorney Margaret Vierbuchen of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Dammers, who is on detail to OCGS from the Northern District of Georgia, prosecuted the case.

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