New York City police officer, 2 brothers accused of smuggling guns

Rex (left), Wilfredo (center) and Ariel Maralit

September 6, 2013 3:44:16 PM PDT
A New York City police officer is under arrest, accused of smuggling assault rifles.

A tip from a confidential source to a HLS agent got Federal investigators on the trail of the Maralit Brothers and their alleged international gun smuggling operation.

The arrest complaint details how from 2009 until earlier this year, 44-year-old Rex Maralit an NYPD veteran officer would purchase some of the most powerful assault rifles ever made and with help from his brother Wilfredo, a Customs Agent in LA, would smuggle the weaponry out of JFK to the Philippines. That's where a third brother would deliver the guns to customers whom authorities say had likely gang, even terrorist connections.

"The allegations are that the items were being sent to the brother in the Philippines," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Commissioner Kelly had little to say about the alleged role of one of his officers in the gunrunning scheme.

"All I can tell you is that you have to read the indictment, the charges that he was sending parts to his brother that was also arrested who was a border custom protections agent in, in, in Los Angeles," Kelly said.

The accused officer's wife said nothing as she left the courthouse following a 15 minute preceding that moved to place her husband in protective custody until a preliminary hearing next week. The prosecutors fear Officer Maralit is a danger and risk of flight, no wonder, he's accused of trafficking in guns that can penetrate brick walls and concrete cinder blocks.

The US Attorney said in a statement that, "Rather than upholding the law as they were sworn to do, these defendants made international gun running a family business. The brothers used their knowledge of the law to circumvent it."

All three are charged with conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and unlicensed firearm dealing.

The government is coordinating with foreign authorities regarding the apprehension of Ariel Maralit. According to the complaint, between January 2009 and March 2013, the defendants engaged in a scheme to smuggle high-powered assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and firearm accessories from the United States to the Philippines, where they were sold to overseas customers.

Ariel Maralit identified customers and sought the assistance of his brothers to purchase and ship the weapons for resale overseas. In response to customer orders from the Philippines, the defendants located weapons advertised on firearms-brokering websites and made arrangements to purchase the guns through dealers in the United States. They then disassembled the weapons and smuggled them out of the United States in disguised shipments.

On several occasions, the defendants used their law enforcement credentials to obtain discounts on weapons from U.S.-based gun dealers.

The powerful and dangerous firearms that the defendants illegally exported and sold include the Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle, the SCAR, and the FN Herstal 5.7mm semi-automatic pistol.

The Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle is a long-range, weapon capable of penetrating body armor, exterior walls of buildings and even aircraft. The Barrett rifle is favored by specialized military forces due to its extraordinary power and range. The SCAR is a military rifle designed in 2004 at the request of the United States Special Operations Command for a new family of assault rifles to be used by U.S. Special Forces. The FN Herstal 5.7mm semi-automatic pistol is a high-capacity, battlefield weapon capable of firing a projectile that can penetrate body armor.

The Arms Export Control Act requires exporters of firearms to first obtain the approval of the United States State Department before shipping weapons overseas.