LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three Philippine nationals caught in a sting operation in their native country have been sentenced in Los Angeles for importing military-grade weapons to the United States.
Sergio Syjuco, 27, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison; Cesar Ubaldo, 28, received five years; and Arjyl Revereza, 27, got 4 ½ years, the U.S. Justice Department said. All will spend up to three years under supervised release after they get out.
After a four-week trial, a federal jury last March convicted the men of conspiring to illegally import the weapons and aiding and abetting their importation to the U.S.
In late 2010, Ubaldo began meeting an FBI agent who was posing as a prospective buyer of high-powered weapons for U.S. and Mexican drug cartels, according to evidence presented at trial.
Prosecutors said Ubaldo introduced the agent to Syjuco, who supplied the weapons, and Revereza, an officer in the Philippines Bureau of Customs who facilitated the movement of the weapons between the Philippines and the U.S.
The men were indicted after authorities seized weapons at the Port of Long Beach in California in June 2011. The weapons seized included a grenade launcher, a mortar launcher and 12 machine guns.
Before the trial began, Syjuco's attorney John Littrell alleged that the undercover FBI agent spent U.S. taxpayer dollars on prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and others during the investigation, and asked that the charges be thrown out because of the misconduct. The motion was denied.