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An Ontario businessman accused of smuggling two Vietnam War-era combat jets across the Peace Bridge last year took the witness stand in his own defense today.

Cenon Rey Avelino, 41, of Rexdale, told a colorful story about himself this morning as he began his testimony before U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin.

Born in the Philippines, he worked as a commercial pilot and flew a government plane for the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos before moving to the Toronto area to become a car salesman about 1980, Avelino testified in the jury trial.

"What is your occupation?" asked Avelino's attorney, James Harrington.

"I'm a trader," Avelino said. "I carry practically everything."

Avelino claims he was engaged in a legitimate business deal when he was arrested at the Peace Bridge in November 1989 with two American combat jets that authorities say were worth $1 million each.

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