Former TPD officer receives sentence for illegal sales of firearms

Former TPD officer receives sentence for illegal sales of firearms

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - On Thursday, July 6, a former Tucson Police officer received his sentence from U.S. District Judge James A. Soto.

According to a Department of Justice news release, Joe Santiago Valles will serve 78 months in prison, after his trial where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S., tampering, aiding and abetting false statements from firearms transactions, tampering with a witness, and identity theft.

Valles was a business partner with a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) in Tucson from Oct. 2015 to April 20, 2016.  According to the release Valles and the FFL used identities of individuals who were not purchasing firearms, to submit ATF Form 4473 claiming they were the purchasers. An ATF Form 4473 is required to legally purchase or acquire firearms from FFLs.

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The FFL and Valles used the fraudulent forms to hide the identity of the true buyers.  During the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigation, 35 firearm transactions were completed, including 24 semi-automatic pistols and rifles. The purchases were made using identities that Valles, who was a TPD officer at the time, stole from two people he had contact with through his official duties.

According to the release, these two identities were listed as buyers in 29 firearm transactions, when in fact they were not the purchasers.  One of the firearms was intercepted at the Nogales Port of Entry, while a second firearm, a .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle was seized by Mexican authorities.

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