According to a press release issued last week by the Department of Justice, three Philippine nationals were arrested last week on charges of violating the Arms Export Control Act and are facing prosecution in the Central District of California.

Sergio Santiago de Leon Syjuco, aka “Yogi,” 25, of Muntinlupa City, Philippines; Cesar Paolo Inciong Ubaldo, aka “Arvi,” 26, of Paranaque City, Philippines; and Arjyl Revereza, 25, of Manila, Philippines, were charged in criminal complaint unsealed yesterday in the Central District of California with importing defense articles into the United States without a license, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. Syjuco, Ubaldo and Revereza were arrested upon their entry into the United States on January 5, 2012. They made their initial court appearances last Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg. According to the complaint, the case is part of an undercover FBI investigation of transnational Asian organized crime groups involved in the illicit trafficking of firearms to the United States and Mexico.

The Arms Export Control Act controls the importation and exportation of defense articles and defense services. The Act is meant to ensure that the import and export of weapons and the like are for licensed purposes only.

The complaint alleges that on June 7, 2011, Syjuco, Ubaldo and Revereza imported various defense articles – items specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted or modified for military application – into the United States from the Republic of the Philippines, including 12 fully automatic Bushmaster M-4 .223 caliber rifles, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, an M14 7.62mm assault rifle, a single-shot grenade launcher, a rocket propelled grenade (RPG-7) launcher, a mortar launcher, an AK-47 rifle and ballistic vests. The three individuals did not have a license to import these items into the United States. Law enforcement officers took possession of the items when they entered the United States.

The individuals were charged under Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2778. If convicted for willfully violating the statute, the Philippine nationals face up to 10 years in prison. This does not take into account other charges, such as conspiracy to violate the statute.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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