CAMDEN, N.J. – A Filipino national appeared in federal court today to face charges that he allegedly conspired to smuggle firearms parts out of the United States, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Kirby Santos, 38, of the Republic of the Philippines, is charged in a criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and U.S. anti-smuggling laws. Santos was arrested in Guam on March 31, 2015, by special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (DHS-HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). He appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider in Camden federal court and was detained.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Beginning in 2008, Santos used an internet forum to meet others and discuss the sales and shipment of firearms and firearms parts from the United States to the Philippines. Santos met a Toms River, New Jersey, conspirator who agreed to help Santos ship firearms and firearms parts from the United States to the Philippines. Santos used his credit cards and other forms of payment to purchase firearms parts from suppliers in the United States. Knowing that they would not ship to the Philippines, Santos arranged for the suppliers – including J&T Distributing from Winchester, Kentucky, Rainier Arms from Auburn, Washington, and Midway Corporation from Columbia, Missouri, among others – to send the firearms parts to the conspirator’s Toms River address in order to make it appear as a domestic sale.
At the direction of Santos, the conspirator would then repackage the firearms parts, falsely label the contents of the package and export the firearms parts to the Philippines for ultimate delivery to Santos. To disguise his role in the conspiracy, the conspirator used an alias when sending the packages containing prohibited items. Upon receiving the firearms parts, Santos paid the conspirator through cash payments to the conspirator’s relatives in the Philippines.
During the course of the nearly five-year long conspiracy, Santos purchased and directed the unlawful exportation of more than $200,000 worth of defense articles from the United States to the Philippines without the required export license.
The conspiracy count with which Santos is charged is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the export of defense articles and defense services without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of State and is one of the principal export control laws in the United States.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of DHS-HSI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly, and special agents of the ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky Jr., with the investigation leading to the arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.