Filipino Sells Drone, Faces Prison Term

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TAMPA, Fla. -- He tried to sell an unmanned military drone on EBay; now he's facing 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to violating arms export and smuggling laws, according to court filings. Henson Chua of Manila, Philippines, was arrested in February after Homeland Security officials said he shipped a three-foot-long, hand-launched, computer-controlled RQ-11A/B Raven to undercover agents. Chua faces up to 20 years in prison, but likely far less under federal sentencing guidelines. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base contacted the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in May 2010 after seeing the drone listed for sale for $13,000 on the Internet auction site.

Through a bar code visible on one of the photographs posted on the site, SOCOM identified the vehicle as belonging to the command. At the same time the Tampa investigation began, Homeland Security agents in Los Angeles began their own independent probe. Hua said he was representing the owner, who had purchased it at a Philippine government auction as abandoned property, according to an arrest affidavit. The agents told Chua they were acting on behalf of a Russian buyer, authorities said.