U.S. Lawyers: No Bail To Fil Ams Accused Of Gun-Running

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – The ties of one of the Maralit brothers to the Philippine intelligence community under the Cory Aquino Administration are being used by the United States authorities as among the reasons to oppose their grant of bail to ensure their appearance in court while the alleged gun-running charges are pending.

A detention hearing for Rex G. Maralit, 44, a New York City police officer, is slated on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m. before the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn to determine if he could be granted bail.  Rex’s elder brother, Wilfredo Maralit, 48, of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection assigned at the Los Angeles International Airport in California, is going to be “removed to the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York.”

Rex G. Maralit, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and his elder brother, Wilfredo Maralit, 48, of Garden Grove, California, were arrested separately and charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act by exporting high-powered weapons from the US to the Philippines without a license from the U.S. State Department and with conspiring to engage in unlicensed firearms dealing.

U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch opposed the granting of bail for Rex. G. Maralit.  In her letter to Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York, she said, “the defendant has significant ties to a foreign country. For example, he has a close relative (and co-conspirator), who lives in the Philippines, and is in fact himself a naturalized U.S. citizen.

“In addition, travel records indicate the defendant recently traveled to and from the Philippines. Moreover, it appears that he may have had ties to a government agency in the Philippines, and clearly possesses professional skills that would make capture difficult should he choose to flee.”

During the arraignment on the complaint last Sept. 6, where preliminary hearing was waived, the U.S. government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Du Charme while Rex G. Maralit was represented by defense counsel, Michelle Gelernt.

One piece of evidence found in his possession shows that between 1991-1992, Rex G. Maralit was an “intelligence” employee under Director Roberto Z. Naguit, Chief of the Intelligence Division of the Philippine government.

But government lawyers argued the main reason they are opposing the grant of bail was that “international gun trafficking is an extremely serious crime, particularly when committed by a public servant with law enforcement authority.”

IF CONVICTED, MARALIT BROTHERS COULD GET 20 YEARS IN PRISON

The defendant had been charged with repeatedly providing firearms, including assault rifles, sniper rifles and semi-automatic handguns, to co-conspirators in the Philippines during the time he was employed as a New York City Police Officer.

If convicted of conspiring to export firearms or engage in unlicensed firearms, it could land the defendant up to five years in prison.

In the likely event that the government charges the defendant with the substantive offense of violating the AECA (Arms Export Control Act), the defendant would face 20 years in prison, stiff penalties that could “create a strong incentive to flee.”

It was also argued that Maralit had accumulated a cache of dangerous weapons and munitions, some of which he stored in a loaded and unsafe condition despite the presence of children in the home. His “unsafe handling of firearms clearly poses a grave threat to the community, both within the United States and abroad.”

The evidence of the defendant’s guilt is considered overwhelming, as indicated by emails, photographs, shipping records, ATF firearms records, search warrant results, and information provided by confidential sources and law enforcement testimony.

U.S. authorities are coordinating with Philippine authorities for the arrest of their brother, Ariel Maralit, 43, who was receiving the gun shipments labeled as “television” placed in Balikbayan boxes coursed thru Five Star RP Sea Cargo, Inc. based in New Jersey.

NAMES OF TWO OTHER FILIPINOS SURFACE

A Nathaniel Familara in the Philippines also confirmed on Dec. 20, 2011 receiving the gun shipments consisting of “industrial sliding door trck m82 upper Glock parts” while another, Norman Jose, sent a shipment from New Jersey to the Philippines that was traced from the “same address as a previous employer of Rex G. Maralit.”

According to investigations conducted by Steven R. Goodman, special agent with the HSI (Homeland Security Investigation), a “confidential source” tipped him that Rex G. Maralit and his brother Ariel were involved in exporting firearms from the U.S. to the Philippines.

It turned out that it all started on July 4, 2009 when Ariel  sent an email to his brother, Wilfredo Maralit, with subject, “need to find” about firearms and firearm components such as “socom,” which means military style rifle.

On July 16, 2009, Ariel sent an email to his brother, Rex, in New York about “buying orders” that listed proposed purchase prices, sale prices, and net profits per person for specified firearms.

When Rex and Wilfredo started shipping high-powered firearms to the Philippines and Ariel accepted firearm shipments although neither of them had license to distribute necessary to export licenses, they conspired to unlawfully export firearms and firearms components from U.S. to the Philippines in violation of 22 U.S.C. Sec. 2778(c).

On April 19, 2012, Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York issued warrants to search email accounts of Maralit brothers for evidence of U.S. exports violations.

According to court records, on Aug. 14, 2009, one of the defendants’ associates emailed the defendant Ariel Maralit a copy of an “indentor’s permit,” noting “if the permit is not enough we can always make follow up on what is still needed on their part in order to export here.”

Attached to the email is a PDF of a document issued by government authorities in the Philippines “license to operate” with an effective date of July 15, 2009 and expiration date of July 14, 2011.  The document allows the licensee to “deal in firearms, ammunition, spare parts and accessories” in the Philippines but not authorized to the export of U.S. Munitions List (USML) articles from the U.S. to the Philippines. The license was non-tranferable and did not list Rex, Ariel or Wilfredo Maralit as licensees.

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