Gunrunning raps filed vs Pinay, son
LOS ANGELES—A 60-year-old Filipino-American woman and her son have been charged in a United States federal court with smuggling firearm parts and ammunition to the Philippines.
Marlou Mendoza of Long Beach, California, was arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport as she returned from a trip to the Philippines, officials from the US Attorney’s Office said here Wednesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Her 30-year-old son, Mark Louie Mendoza, remains at large and is believed to be in the Philippines.
The mother and son were named in separate indictments by a federal grand jury last month.
Prosecutors alleged that Marlou Mendoza failed to provide the required written notice to freight forwarders that she was shipping ammunition. The indictment cited three instances in 2011 when Mendoza shipped .22-caliber ammunition that were declared as “household goods.”
She was arraigned in federal court on Jan. 20 and ordered released on a $10,000 bail bond pending trial. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
Mark Mendoza was charged with conspiracy, three counts of unlawful export of munitions, three counts of export smuggling and one count of money laundering. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 115 years in federal prison.
The younger Mendoza was the president of Last Resort Armaments, a tools and equipment company, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
He ordered more than $100,000 worth of ammunition and firearm accessories and had them delivered to his parents’ Long Beach home. The items included parts for M-16 and AR-15-type rifles which, according to the Arms Export Control Act, may not be shipped to the Philippines without an export license issued by the Department of State.
“The weapons shipments charged in the indictments allowed firearm parts and ammunition to leave the United States and travel to the Philippines, where they could have been sold to anyone,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker, in a statement.
The younger Mendoza also transferred more than $650,000 from the sale of the alleged smuggled ammunition and firearms parts from an account in the Philippines to a money remitter in Los Angeles in 2011, according to prosecutors.
The charges followed a joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The probe started in 2011 after US Customs and Border Protection officers found a cache of firearms parts and ammunition in an outbound crate shipped by Marlou Mendoza.
In July 2011, US Customs and the Philippine Bureau of Customs intercepted and seized three separate shipments from Last Resort Armaments containing approximately 180,000 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition and more than three dozen receivers for AR-15 and M-16 assault rifles.
In November 2012, specials agents executed a search warrant at a location associated with Last Resort Armaments, where they seized more than 120,000 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition, along with AR-15 trigger assemblies, magazines, sights and rifle barrels.
“The ammunition and accessories seized in this case represent quite an arsenal,” said Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, in a statement.
“Once these goods reached the Philippines, we can’t be certain where they wind up—whether in the hands of hobbyists or those with more menacing intentions.”
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