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Law enforcement brothers accused of international arms trafficking

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NEW YORK, NY (CNN) –  A New York City police officer and his brother are accused of illegally selling high-powered weapons and using their law enforcement credentials to smuggle guns overseas, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Rex Maralit, 44, an NYPD officer, and his brother, Wilfredo Maralit, 48, a Border Protection officer in Los Angeles, bought high-powered assault rifles, sniper rifles and pistols and then sent them to customers in the Philippines, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The brothers were arrested Thursday.

A third brother in the Philippines, Ariel Maralit, 43, took specific orders from customers, authorities said.

Between 2009 and March 2013, the brothers in America would special-order the desired firearms and send them internationally in disguised shipments, according to a complaint from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Firearms dealing is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and requires gun dealers to first obtain a license. The Arms Export Control Act requires exporters of firearms to obtain approval and requires licenses for the export of military-style weapons such as the brothers allegedly sent.

“As alleged, rather than upholding and enforcing the law as they had sworn to do, these defendants madeinternational gunrunning a family business,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a news release. “The brothers used their knowledge of the law to circumvent it, and sent dangerous weapons overseas without regard for the ultimate destination or targets.”

Both brothers are expected to appear in court Friday.

By Lorenzo Ferrigno

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