Fil-Am brothers nabbed for international arms smuggling


The US Attorney’s Office has compiled evidence against two of three of the Maralit brothers, Filipino-Americans based in the US, who were charged with smuggling weapons to the Philippines after their arrest. The third is at large in Manila. Copies of the evidence emailed to the Inquirer shows two Maralit brothers and their arsenal of high-powered firearms. PHOTOS FROM US ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

LOS ANGELES — United States authorities are working with Philippine officials in hunting down one of three Filipino-American brothers charged with smuggling weapons from the US to the Philippines.

Ariel Maralit, 43, is wanted for alleged conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and unlicensed firearms dealing. He is believed to be in the Philippines. His two brothers, both law enforcement officers in the US, were arrested separately Friday (Saturday in Manila).

Rex Maralit, a 44-year-old New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, was arrested in New York. His brother Wilfredo, a 48-year-old Customs and Border Protection officer assigned to Los Angeles International Airport, was captured in California. Shortly after his arrest, Wilfredo appeared in a federal court in Santa Ana, California, where the judge set a $300,000 bail.

Wilfredo is from Garden Grove, an Orange County suburb 35 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Rex is from Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Between January 2009 and March 2013, the three brothers allegedly smuggled high-powered assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and firearm accessories from the US to the Philippines, according to the complaint, a copy of which was emailed to the Inquirer by the US Attorney’s Office.

The complaint alleged that Ariel Maralit identified potential buyers in the Philippines while his brothers purchased the weapons, using their law enforcement credentials to get a discount on many occasions.

The weapons were disassembled before they were shipped to the Philippines in disguised packages. Some were labeled as “televisions” or “industrial sliding door track,”  according to the complaint. None of the defendants obtained export licenses or federal firearms licenses.

“Rather than upholding the law as they were sworn to do, these defendants made international gun running a family business,” the US Attorney said in a statement. “The brothers used their knowledge of firearms and their status as law enforcement officers to engage in an illegal international arms trafficking business.”

The brothers emailed each other photos of themselves posing with the weapons. Copies of the photos were forwarded to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

One of the smuggled weapons — the Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle — is “capable of penetrating body armor, exterior walls of buildings, and even aircraft,” said the statement.

Another one, the FN Herstal 5.7mm semi-automatic pistol, was described by authorities as “a high-capacity, battlefield weapon capable of firing a projectile that can penetrate body armor.”
If convicted, the brothers face up to 5 years in prison on each charge and a fine of up to $250,000.

The Arms Export Control Act prohibits American dealers from selling to international buyers without permission and documentation from the State Department.

Government prosecutors Friday asked the federal court in Santa Ana, California, to order Wilfredo Maralit held without bail, but US Magistrate Judge Arthur Nakazato instead gave the defendant until September 19 to post a $300,000 bail.

After posting bail, Maralit will be released from custody and required to appear in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York on September 23.

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  • Guest

    seems never satisfied in life. They want more and more, just like some of our mambabatas. This is their choice and a bad one too. Temptation is just all over the place.

    it is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.
    Eric Hoffer

  • Ako Ito

    Ang Pinoy na pulis kahit saan sulok ng mundo mo dalhin….GAGO pa rin!

  • Ako Ito

    Namana at natuto lang ang mga iyan sa mga bulok na Amerikano…remember the “Iran-Contra Arms deal”?…tsk, tsk, tsk!~

    • walaywalay


    • crazy_horse_101010

      remember the thousands of illegal guns made here i can take. 4000 pisos go out my house and buy a illegal gun in a half hour. i have been offered them while walking TSKTSKTSK

      • Ako Ito

        Yah, you are right. But the local guns or “paltik “are nothing compared to the high powered guns smuggled into the Philippines…as if someone will be waging an all out war.

  • PapatowtyHantam

    I had the impression that working for the police or military in the US would make one financially secured for life, I guess that’s not enough for the brothers Karamazov.

  • John Fereira

    Are they the children of General Maralit of the PNP before? Akala siguro ng mga ayan untouchables na sila.

  • Tama_ako

    mukang members ito ng isang malaking syndicate… malamang meron protektor na politicians yan…

  • eric_santiago1

    and i can’t get us visa because i am not worthy? lol!

  • walaywalay

    Arial Maralit was the contact for the trio with their potential clients in the Philippines. Once he obtained the shopping list from clients he >>Emailed the list to his brothers in the U.S.

    With everything set up, Rex-Gene and Wilfredo Maralit bought the desired weapons and firearms parts from dealers in the U.S >>Via the internet. ONLINE!!
    The two also used their law enforcement credentials for discounts.

    The older Maralit brothers then smuggled the illegal goods overseas labeled as electronics and building materials to avoid suspicion.

    Agents said that while executing the search warrant on Rex-Gene Maralit’s residence where he lives with his wife and children, they came across a variety of weapons in the open.

    Since the trio didn’t have official government permits to sell arms overseas, they were charged both conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and for engaging in illegal weapon trade.

    James T. Hayes Jr., the special agent-in-charge for Homeland Security in New York, commented on the charges: “The defendants are alleged to have illegally exported some of the world’s most powerful firearms with complete disregard as to who the end user would be.”

    Federal law enforcement mentioned that the Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber semiautomatic rifle, one of the weapons being sold, had the power to shatter brick walls, shred body armor, and strike aircraft at even far distances.

    While the U.S government is working in tandem with law enforcement in the Philippines to bring Arial Maralit in, Rex-Gene was brought into the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse at 11 A.M today. The eldest brother, Wilfredo, is set to appear at the Federal Court in Santa Ana, California at 2 P.M.

    Prosecutors requested that Rex-Gene Maralit be held as he is a naturalized citizen and could’ve fled to the Philippines.

    The brothers are looking at a maximum of five years and a $250,000 fine each.

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