Victor Infante Charged with Weapons Exportation and Methamphetamine Distribution Arrested in the Phillipines
NOV 6 Anthony P. Placido, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York today announced the arrest of Victor Infante, also known as "the Devil," the leader of an international Filipino methamphetamine and firearms distribution enterprise (the "Infante Organization"). The arrest of Infante follows a 9-month joint investigation, led by the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force which is composed of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, and the New York State Police. Law enforcement agencies including FBI, ICE, and ATF in cities such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York also participated in the investigation. The investigation revealed that Infante is responsible for the shipment of thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine from Los Angeles to New York and New Jersey and the attempted shipment of components of military-style weapons from Los Angeles to the Philippines. Infante and his associates also attempted to exchange methamphetamine for automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Infante, a naturalized United States citizen who was born in the Philippines, resided in Los Angeles during most of the time of the conspiracy charged in the complaint. However, when the federal investigation began to tighten around him, Infante fled to the Philippines, where he hid on the Island of Basilan. Law enforcement agents then enlisted the aid of the United States Department of State, which requested the assistance of the Philippines government in securing Infante's return toe the United States to face federal charges. On November 3, 2003, Philippines law enforcement and immigration officials arrested Infante in the southern Philippines. Infante was then ordered deported from the Philippines, turned over to ICE, and FBI agents and a NYPD detective in Manila and transported in custody to Guam where the United States will commence proceedings to remove him the Eastern District of New York.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony P. Placido stated," "This investigation represents a systematic attack against a major transnational drug and weapon trafficking organization. This coordinated multi-jurisdictional effort confirms law enforcement's resolve in bringing those individuals involved in the trafficking of illegal drugs and
weapons to justice. I applaud the Philippine government for their cooperation and commitment to this investigation."
According to the complaint, Infante operated a methamphetamine and firearm distribution organization that did business in New York, California, New Jersey, Louisiana and the Philippines. During February 2003, one of Infante's co-conspirators was recorded discussing methamphetamine and weapons transactions. These recordings included a conversation in which the co-conspirator identified this methamphetamine supplier as "The Devil" and stated that weapons such as Uzi's and MP-5's were acceptable payment for the drugs. The investigation revealed the "The Devil" was one of Infante's aliases. In March 2003, during another recorded conversation, the co-conspirator stated that "The Devil" had e-mailed him a wish list of firearms, which included MAC-11 submachine guns with silencers, MP-5's, HK-94's, AK-47's Colt AR-215's and Uzi Model B's. All the weapons of Infantes's list were military-style, automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
On March 11, 2003, law enforcement agents received court authorization to begin wiretapping one of Infant's co-conspirator's cellular telephones, and thereafter Infante was intercepted discussing the ongoing negotiations concerning the exchange of methamphetamine for weapons. During one call on March 14th, Infante reminded his co-conspirator not to "forget about our guns, partner." During another call on March 14, 2003, the co-conspirator informed Infante that an expected shipment of methamphetamine had not yet arrived in Queens, New York, and told Infante, "they (Federal Express) put a hold on it I don't know what to do now. This is risky, delicate." The conspirators first planned to exchange the weapons for the drugs in New York and subsequently changed the location to New Orleans. Ultimately, the negotiations broke down and Infante fled the United States for the Philippines.
Thereafter, on July 30, 2003, a second co-conspirator was observed shipping a Federal Express package from Los Angeles, California, to Infante in the Philippines. ICE inspectors seized the package and recovered numerous parts of AR-15 and M-16 military-style, semi-automatic rifles. The airway bill for the package falsely stated that it contained a used camera tripod valued at $30.
The complaint charges Infante with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to export military-style firearms and components from the United States without a license, and conspiracy to possess a machine gun. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $1 million fine on the methamphetamine charges, and a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the firearms charges. The United States Attorneys Office, Eastern District of New York, is prosecuting the government's case.