LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Three Philippine nationals whose lawyer alleged an undercover FBI agent used taxpayer dollars for prostitutes in the Philippines were sentenced this week for illegally importing military-grade weapons into the United States via Long Beach.
Sergio Syjuco, 27, Cesar Ubaldo, 28 and Arjyl Revereza, 27, all of Manila, were found guilty by a federal jury on March 4, 2013 of conspiring to import military-grade weapons into the country and aiding and abetting the importation of those weapons, Department of Justice officials said.
Ubaldo was sentenced on Wednesday to serve 60 months in prison and Revereza received a sentence of 51 months in prison, and both men will be under two years of supervised release after serving out their sentences. Syjuco was sentenced Tuesday to serve 84 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and was additionally ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
Prosecutors said the defendants conspired to sell high-powered military and assault weapons to a buyer interested in arming drug dealers in Mexican drug cartels and Mexican Mafia gangs. Ubaldo met with a an undercover FBI agent posing as a prospective weapons buyer and introduced him to Syjuco, who supplied the weapons, and Revereza, a police officer in the Philippines Bureau of Customs who facilitated the movement of illegal weapons through Philippines customs and into the United States, according to information presented in court.
The weapons included a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a mortar launcher, a single-shot grenade launcher, 12 Bushmaster machine guns, plus mortars and grenades. The defendants also illegally imported the highest level military body armor into the United States, prosecutors said.
The Associated Press reported Deputy Federal Public Defender John Littrell had filed a motion in 2012, asking a judge to toss the indictment against Syjuco for “outrageous government misconduct,” alleging the unidentified agent paid up to $2,400 each time he went to brothels with Syjuco and others to reward them for their work to secure the weapons.
Federal prosecutors at the time acknowledged in court documents that the agent asked to be reimbursed for nearly $15,000 for “entertainment” and other expenses related to the investigation, the Associated Press reported, and no charges have been filed against the agent.