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3 men convicted in weapons smuggling plot

Three Philippine men conspired to sell machine guns, explosives and other weapons in a plot to arm Mexican drug cartels.

March 05, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times

Three Philippine men have been convicted of importing military weapons through a shipment to Long Beach in a plot to arm Mexican drug cartels and gang members, federal authorities said.

Evidence presented during the four-week trial in federal court in Los Angeles showed that the men conspired to sell weapons that included machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, as well as explosives including mortars and grenades, according to the FBI.

The men, identified as Sergio Syjuco, 26; Cesar Ubaldo, 27; and Arjyl Revereza, 26, met with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a prospective buyer, federal authorities said.

The men believed the buyer was "interested in bringing weapons into the United States to arm drug dealers in Mexican drug cartels and Mexican Mafia gang members," the FBI said in a statement.

During the trial, the undercover agent was accused by a defense attorney of spending taxpayer dollars on prostitutes after going with Syjuco and others to brothels. The attorney sought unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed.

"The undercover agent assigned to this investigation and his family endured true hardship," said Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI office in Los Angeles. He called the allegations "unfounded."

The three men, who were convicted Monday, are scheduled to be sentenced June 9 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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