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Crime Trackers: ATF cracks down on gun dealers allegedly smuggli - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Crime Trackers: ATF cracks down on gun dealers allegedly smuggling weapons to Mexico

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TUCSON -

A former police officer found himself on the other side of the law.

Federal agents arrested him and his business partner on weapons charges.

According to  federal documents, Timothy Veninga was a federally-licensed firearms dealers who ran his business out of his home. Joe Valles, a former Tucson Police officer, was his business partner.

Together, they allegedly were selling weapons and taking them into Mexico.

“I'd like to think he's innocent, but I have no idea,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified.

He said he saw a lot of police action on Wednesday, including the ATF, which is the lead agency in this investigation, which went from Oct. 2015 to March 2016.

“I would have no idea, you know, what he did with the guns or who he sold them to," he said. "As far as I know, he's been a good neighbor to us.”

According to the documents, the men were falsifying ATF form 4473. The form is a firearms transaction record that is required to be completed by the federal-licensed firearms dealer and the buyer before the dealer can transfer or sell a firearm.

The document further stated, one person was paid $200 to complete the forms, even though he never purchased or received a Barret .50 caliber rifle.

On April 25, Joe Valles met with two others. 

"That all the guns were already out of the country," he told them. "Honestly, you guys want me to tell you the truth?"

"I already got rid of all the paperwork," he said.

Later he stated, "No, it's me. I'm the one that did all this [expletive]. I'm the one that's gonna go to prison. I'm the one that made all the [expletive] sales."

He told the people in the meeting to tell investigators he sold the guns to them at reduced prices.

This matched what Veninga told ATF agents on April 11, 2016

The two are scheduled for a detention hearing next week. 

Tucson police confirm Joe Valles worked at TPD from 2012 through 2014.  He resigned instead of getting fired.

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