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Former TPD officer sentenced for illegal sales of firearms

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Posted at 3:51 PM, Jul 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-07 22:03:45-04

Former Tucson police officer, Joe Santiago Valles was sentenced to 78 months in prison for aiding and abetting false statements in firearms transactions, tampering with a witness, and identity theft. 

U.S. District Judge James A. Sotto sentenced Valles yesterday after he previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

Beginning Oct. 2015 through April 20, 2016 Valles was partners with a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) in Tucson. Both Valles and the FFL used the identity of individuals who were not purchasing firearms and submitted ATF Forms 4473 under their name.

The ATF Forms 4473 is required to legally purchase a or acquire a firearm from FFL. FFL and Valles used the fraudulent forms to conceal the identities of the true buyers. 

Valles resigned before he was terminated from TPD in December 2014 and used the identities of two individuals he had contact with through official duties.  There were 29 firearm transactions listed for these two individuals who did not actually purchase the firearms themselves.

The conspiracy involved 35 firearm transactions, including 24 semi-automatic pistols and rifles. 

To date, one firearm was intercepted at the Nogales Port of Entry and a second, a .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle, was seized by Mexican authorities. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case with the help of the Customs and Border Protection.