U.S. Atty: NYPD Cop, Brothers Charged In Alleged Gun Smuggling Ring
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Three brothers, including an NYPD cop, have been charged with allegedly smuggling weapons from the United States to the Philippines, authorities announced Friday.
Rex Maralit, an officer assigned to police headquarters in Manhattan, was arrested by federal agents and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
His brother, Wilfredo Maralit, a Customs and Border Protection officer assigned to Los Angeles International Airport, was arrested in California while a third brother, Ariel Maralit, is being sought in the Philippines.
The three are charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and unlicensed firearms dealing, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said.
“As alleged, rather than upholding and enforcing the law as they had sworn to do, these defendants made international gunrunning a family business,” Lynch said. “The brothers used their knowledge of the law to circumvent it and sent dangerous weapons overseas without regard for the ultimate destination or targets.”
Rex Maralit joined New York’s Finest a decade ago. For the last few years he’s been working in the department’s Equal Employment Opportunity office. He makes about $100,000 a year, CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported.
He, his wife and three young children live in Lawrenceville, N.J.
One neighbor said she saw Sharon Maralit on Thursday, but when Aiello went to ask her what happened she said “I don’t know.” She was almost crying because she was scared.
Between January 2009 and March 2013, the three brothers allegedly schemed to smuggle high-powered assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and firearm accessories from the U.S. to the Philippines, where they were then sold to overseas customers, according to the complaint.
Authorities said Ariel Maralit identified customers while his brothers purchased and shipped the weapons overseas. The weapons were disassembled before being smuggled out of the U.S. in disguised shipments, authorities said.
Rex and Wilfredo allegedly used their law enforcement credentials on several occasions to get discounts on weapons from U.S.-based gun dealers, according to the complaint.
“One other question do you give discounts to LEO, I am an active PO with the NYPD, please advise,” prosecutors said Rex Maralit allegedly asked a dealer in an email.
According to authorities, “LEO” is an abbreviation for “Law Enforcement Officer” and “PO” refers to “Police Officer.”
Some of the weapons the brothers allegedly exported and sold include a Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle, a Special Operations Combat Assault and the FN Herstal 5.7mm semi-automatic pistol, authorities said.
“These are the types of weapons that really hit the sweet spot for criminal gangs, terrorist groups, kidnappers – all of which operate in the Philippines,” CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller told “CBS This Morning.”
None of the defendants obtained export licenses or federal firearms licenses in connection with the weapons they sold, according to the complaint.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly released a statement, calling the case ”disheartening to the entire department.”
Rex Maralit and Wilfredo Maralit were both due in court Friday. U.S. authorities are working with officials overseas to capture Ariel Maralit, authorities said.
If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison on each charge and a fine of up to $250,000.
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