Three men were sentenced this week in a California District Court for illegally importing high-powered military hardware into the U.S. The smuggled items included grenade launchers, machine guns, and ballistic vests.
The three men, Sergio Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo, and Arjyl Revereza, are all Philippine nationals from Manila. According to court documents, the men conspired to smuggle the powerful weaponry into the U.S. and then pass them on to Mexican drug cartels and the Mexican Mafia.
The items the men attempted to smuggle included a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher, a mortar launcher, a single-shot grenade launcher, and 12 Bushmaster machine guns. Mortars and grenades for the weapons were also part of the package, as were military-grade ballistic vests.
Unfortunately for the men, the buyer they were importing the weapons for was actually an undercover FBI agent. The FBI in cooperation with the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation investigated the men and thwarted their smuggling attempt. According to court documents, Ubaldo served as a facilitator for the deal, meeting with the undercover agent and introducing him to Syjuco, the man who was able to acquire and supply the weapons. Revereza aided the smuggling from his position as a police officer in the Philippines Bureau of Customs, getting the items through customs in the Philippines. After the items were shipped the FBI tracked the packages and seized them when they arrived in the U.S.
For his part in the scheme Syjuco has been sentenced to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Ubaldo was sentenced to five years in prison and Revereza to four years, four months.