Tucson Police Officer Gets 6.5 Years For Trafficking Guns Smuggled to Mexico


A Tucson man was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison Thursday for stealing the identities of two people he had contact with in his work as a police officer, and using their names to illegally purchase firearms — including one intercepted at the border and a .50-caliber rifle seized in Mexico, authorities said.

Nearly three dozen weapons were involved in the alleged conspiracy, authorities said, including two Barrett .50-caliber rifles, an AK-47-type rifle, and a series of .38 and 9mm pistols.

Joe Santiago Valles, 34, was sentenced to 78 months in prison after pleading guilty to a variety of charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and abetting false statements in firearms transactions, tampering, tampering with a witness, and identity theft.

According to court documents and statements by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Valles “stole the identities of two individuals he had contact with through his official duties” in his former work as a TPD officer.

Valles, who joined TPD in July 2012, resigned in December 2014 rather than be fired for being untruthful in an investigation unrelated to the federal case, a department spokesman said.

Valles relinquished his certification as a peace officer in August 2015, according to state records. TPD was not part of the investigation into the federal firearms charges, and was informed of the sentencing on Friday morning by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sgt. Pete Dugan said. He did not indicate whether or not federal investigators had confirmed the ID thefts used information Valles obtained while on duty by checking internal TPD records.

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Source: http://www.tucsonsentinel.com