Former Tucson cop gets 6.5 years for trafficking guns to Mexico
By Daniel Terrill
Joe Santiago Valles served the Tucson Police Department from 2012 through 2014 when he resigned, according to reports. (Photo: Tucson Police/AP)
A federal judge sentenced a former Tucson police officer to 78 months in prison for a host of charges connected to illegally selling firearms, the Justice Department announced over the weekend.
Joe Santiago Valles, 34, the former Tucson officer, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S., aiding and abetting false statements in firearms transactions, tampering, tampering with a witness and identity theft.
Valles was a business partner with Federal Firearms Licensee Timothy Veninga, doing business as Ballistic Firearms, in Tucson, the Justice Department said. Together, they submitted ATF forms to transfer guns using phony names to conceal the identities of the actual buyers. From October 2015 to April 2016, they transferred 35 firearms, including 24 semi-auto pistols and rifles.
One of the firearms was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on its way into Mexico, and Mexican authorities recovered a second firearm, a .50-caliber rifle, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors say soldiers with the Mexican military in September 2016 stopped five men in Sinoaloa, Mexico, as they disembarked an airplane carrying long guns. Altogether, authorities seized eight firearms and a stash of