PH monitors case of 3 Pinoys accused of gun smuggling
Posted at 01/18/2012 4:58 PM | Updated as of 01/18/2012 4:58 PM
LOS ANGELES – The Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles has been watching the case of three Filipino nationals arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on charges of weapons smuggling.
“We will be monitoring that closely. I will be attending that hearing also. There will be a grand jury at that session,” said Deputy Consul General Dan Espiritu.
The three Filipinos, Sergio Santiago de Leon Skyjack, Cesar Paolo Inciong Ubaldo and Arjyl Revereza, are charged with importing weapons without a license.
Consular officials will be at the suspects’ next court appearance on February 6th, when they will be indicted.
Investigators claim that in 2010, FBI agents posed as members of a Mexican drug cartel and met with the group in the Philippines to buy about $50,000 worth of automatic assault rifles, grenade launchers, armor, and other military grade accessories.
The affidavit stated that Syjuco and Ubaldo were selling the weapons while Revereza was “a corrupt customs official that could deliver the weapons.”
They each face 20 years in prison if convicted.
The consulate has been in contact with the US attorneys of the accused smugglers, as well as their families in the Philippines.
“Of course they’re very much concerned. They’re trying to see the blow-by-blow proceedings of the preparations that are going on but of course I could not discus this more extensively,” Espiritu said.
The consulate met the accused on Tuesday at the Metropolitan Detention Center to check on their welfare while in prison.
“They’re doing well inside and secondly the other objective of the visit is to see if their rights as accused are protected and safeguarded. They’re now properly represented by their respective legal councils,” explained Espiritu.
The 3 were arrested Thursday when they arrived in Los Angeles expecting to meet an undercover agent posing as a buyer from the Mexican drug cartel.
The American-made weapons have been seized by US authorities since the shipment arrived in Long Beach last June.
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