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May 2021


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Exclusive: Undercover FBI Agent Accused of Using Taxpayer $$ to Pay for Prostitutes in Philippines for Himself and Defendants in Sting

By Allan Lengel

An undercover California FBI agent is being accused of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on prostitutes in the Philippines “for himself and for defendants” in a gun-trafficking sting and that “many of the prostitutes were likely minors.”

The has reviewed the allegations  in court papers that were  filed on September 17 in Los Angeles federal court by John Littrell, a deputy Federal Public Defender, who represents one of the three defendants.

“In order to induce the defendants to participate, an undercover agent spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on prostitutes for himself and for the defendants,” Littrell wrote. “Many of these prostitutes were likely minors. These crimes were not victimless.  Indeed, only months after an undercover agent paid thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for prostitutes at a well-known brothel in Manila, the Philippine government raided the brothel, and rescued twenty under-aged girls.”

Littrell has asked the judge to dismiss the case based on “outrageous governmental misconduct,” citing the use of prostitutes  in the case —  including for the agent — and allegations that the FBI manufactured the case after it failed to find real weapons traffickers in its investigation into Transnational Asian Organized Crime that began in 2010 and ended in December 2011 with criminal charges. A Nov. 13  trial has been set.

“The defendants became involved in this offense only after the government’s effort to ensnare a true weapons trafficker fell apart,” the court documents says. “More importantly, the actual crimes charged in this case — importing weapons to the United States — were committed by federal agents acting unilaterially , without help from the defendants.” In other words, he alleged, that the FBI agents, not the defendants, actually shipped the weapons to the U.S., and the FBI deliberately lied on customs declarations — all so the FBI could charge the defendants with illegal importation of weapons.

The Philippino defendants Sergio  Santiago Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo and Arjyl Revereza are charged  with conspiracy and importation of firearms. Littrell, who represents Syjuco, alleges that the defendants were not weapons traffickers, but the FBI pushed them into obtaining and selling guns. Authorities allege that the defendants sold weapons and helped facilitate the importation of the weapons to the U.S.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles said Sunday: “As a policy, we’re not authorized to comment on pending prosecution, but the government will respond to the motion in court.” Government lawyers in the case at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and the Justice Department in Washington did not respond Sunday to emails asking for comment.

Defense attorney John Littrell commented Sunday, saying: “There is no legitimate justification for an FBI agent supporting sex trafficking in a foreign country. I hope these are the actions of a poorly supervised agent, and that they were not sanctioned by the department of justice. Either way, this conduct should be thoroughly investigated.”

The undercover agent, who posed during the sting as an arms broker for the Mexican cartels,  is only identified in the court documents by his undercover name Richard Han.

After the indictment, as  part of its own investigation into the case, the Federal Defender’s Office sent an investigator to the Philippines, who spoke to workers in the brothels and came up with allegations about the prostitutes and the undercover agent.

“On several occasions, the undercover agent invited Syjuco, Ubaldo, Revereza and others to ‘Air Force One,’ “Area 51,’ and other brothels in and around Manila in order to reward them for their efforts and encourage them to continue looking for weapons, “attorney Littrell wrote in the court document, based on his office’s own investigation. “Using the name ‘Richard Han,” he ordered prostitutes and paid for himself and others to have sex with the prostitutes.”

Littrell writes that Ariel Escosio, a manager at Area 51, said that the undercover agent known as Richard Han always paid for everything in the club and that he particularly liked to have sex with someone named Natasha.

Littrell noted in the court document that Gerry Albrido, manager at Air Force One,  said the agent was abusive and degrading to prostitutes.

“One on occasion, Han demanded that several prostitutes in the club line up and drink five shots of hard liquor,” Litrell wrote. “Han demanded that several prostitutes in the club line up and drink five shots of hard liquor. Most of the girls did so, but one them, who was very small, coud not drink the liquor and poured it out. Mr. Alberight stated that Han yelled at the girl and forced her to drink the alcohol until she vomited.

Lattrill noted that the government turned over some documentation from the investigation involving expenses in the Philippines.

“Although the government represents that these expenditures were for ‘entertainment and cocktail (tips included) it is impossible that the agent could not have known that the money went toward prostitutes,” Littrell wrote. “On May 9, 2011, the agent was entertained for several hours in a private room at  Air Force One, a prostitution club. He sought reimbursement of more than three thousand dollars for ‘entertainment and cocktail (tip included) for that night.”

Littrell noted in court papers that on May 5, 2011, that the National Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Human Trafficking Division in the Philippines conducted a “rescue operation” at Area 51 and rescued 60 victims of sex trafficking, including  nearly 20 who were minors.



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Weekend Series on Crime History: Mobster Joe Gallo

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Was Swimming in Cash, Prosecutor Says

Kwame Kilpatrick top (right) leaves court at close of first day of trial. /Deadline Detroit photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — The prosecution lit into Kwame Kilpatrick in opening arguments today, and the defense countered with sharp criticism of the charges. By 1:55p.m., the first day of battle was over, opening the way for the government to call its first witnesses on Monday in the biggest case in Detroit history in memory.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow began the morning by carving up Kilpatrick, claiming as mayor he rigged tens of millions of dollars in contracts for his friend Bobby Ferguson and his father Bernard while lining his own pockets with bribes and kickbacks. He said if Ferguson didn’t get a piece of a contract, Victor Mercado, the head of the water and sewerage department at the time, would hold up or cancel the contract.

Kilpatrick faces 32 counts of public corruption along with co-defendants Ferguson, a close friend and contractor; father Bernard who had a consulting firm; and Mercado.

The prosecution tried painting Kilpatrick as man with plenty of questionable cash. Chutkow said he had at least $540,000 in cash above his paycheck during his mayoral reign, and suggested there was more beyond what the government could document. He noted that Kilpatrick would regularly go to the bank and ended up turning over some $280,000 in cash to pay for credit card debt.

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A Theft That’s Bound to Get Plenty of Attention: Thieves Swipe Houston FBI Agents Gun and ID

By Allan Lengel

Some thefts get more attention than others.

Count on this one getting plenty of attention from the public and law enforcement.

The Associated Press reported that thieves stole a handgun and identification documents from an FBI agents car that was parked at a Houston gas station on Wednesday.

AP reported that a security video showed two men fleeing in a white SUV.


FBI Investigating Whether Somali Terror Group Is Successfully Recruiting Americans

Steve Neavling

A year-long investigation into a Somali terror group’s efforts to recruit Americans may be gathering steam in Minnesota, the Associated Press reports.

The FBI has been focusing on Minnesota because it’s home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., according to the AP.

Fueling fears that al-Shabab is succeeding in its efforts was the recent revelation that a Minnesota man traveled to Somalia to join the terrorist group, his family said.

The AP noted that the FBI has been interviewing and subpoenaing Somalis in the state, a potential sign that the investigation is gaining traction.

Fiona Apple Lands in Jail Over Marijuana Possession at Border Patrol Checkpoint

Steve Neavling 

Pop singer Fiona Apple was released from jail Thursday after authorities says she was busted with marijuana and hashish in her tour bus at the West Texas Border Patrol checkpoint, the Associated Press reports.

After drug-sniffing dogs detected pot, Apple’s bus was searched and authors found about four grams of marijuana and another four grams of hashish.

Apple could be charged with a felony for the hashish, which is considered more serious in the eyes of Texas officials, according to the AP.

Apple is just the latest celebrity arrested in Sierra Blanca on marijuana charges. Others include rapper Snoop Dogg, country singer Willie Nelson and actor Armand Hammer, the AP reported.

Border Patrol Agent Arrested on Allegations of Molesting His 14-year-old Relative

 Steve Neavling

A veteran Border Patrol agent faces charges of indecency with a child after surrendering to authorities following accusations that he molested a 14-year-old relative, 6 News reports.

Jose Jalomos, 49, is to be charged in two counties where he’s accused of fondling the girl at a ranch and another undisclosed location over the past six months in Duval and Jim Wells counties in Texas.

Jalomos, a 20-year-veteran of the agency, most recently worked at the Hebbronville station, according to 6 News.

Jalomos turned himself in a short time after an arrest warrant was signed, 6 News reported.