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Filipino weapons smugglers sentenced to U.S. federal prison

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Three Filipino citizens were sentenced in a Los Angeles federal courtroom for being captured while illegally importing military-grade weapons into the U.S. during a law-enforcement undercover operation in Manilla, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement released on Thursday.

The suspects smuggled military-style machine guns, sniper rifles with high-powered scopes, grenade launchers and grenades, a mortar launcher with mortar shells, as well as top-of-the-line body armor, into the United States, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said.

Sergio Syjuco received a seven-year sentence in federal prison; Cesar Ubaldo got a five-year sentence; and Arjyl Revereza got 4 years in prison, U.S. Justice Department officials said in their statement on Thursday.

Upon release from prison, the three convicted weapons-smugglers will remain under the supervision of U.S. prison authorities.

Following a trial that lasted almost one month, a federal jury convicted the felons in March 2013 of conspiracy to import the illegal weapons and aiding and abetting the importation of those weapons into California.

The 28-year-old Ubaldo began meeting an FBI agent who was posing as a prospective buyer of high-powered weapons for U.S. and Mexican drug cartels in the fall of 2010, according to the FBI.

Prosecutors told the court that Ubaldo helped the undercover agent connect with 27-year-old Syjuco -- who provided the weapons for the smuggling operation -- and connect with Revereza, 27, a Philippines Bureau of Customs officer who aided in the surreptitious transportation of the weapons and body armor between the Philippines and the U.S.

The three suspects were indicted after the FBI intercepted the shipment of weapons at a seaport located in Long Beach, Calif., in June 2011.

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