News and Press Releases

Hialeah Police Officer and Wife Charged with Dealing in Firearms Without a License

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), announce the filing of a criminal indictment charging Rafael Oscar Valdes, 42, and Tammy Lynn Valdes, 45, of the City of Miami, Florida, with one count of dealing in firearms without a federal firearms license, in violation of Title 18, Untied States Code, Section 922(a)(1)(A). In addition, Rafael Oscar Valdes is charged with making a material false statement in connection with the sale or disposition of firearms, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(6). As part of the indictment, the United States seeks the forfeiture of 5 rifles, 4 shotguns, and 38 handguns that were seized from the defendants as part of the investigation.

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on January 11, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., before the West Palm Beach Duty Magistrate. If convicted of dealing in firearms without a license, each defendant faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. If Rafael Valdes is convicted of making a material false statement in connection with the sale or disposition of a firearm, he faces an additional possible maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine.

According to the criminal indictment filed in the case, Rafael Valdes has been employed as a police officer with the City of Hialeah, Florida, since 2004. Tammy Valdes was also once employed as a police officer with the City of West Miami, Florida, from 2004 until 2008 and the Town of Golden Beach, Florida, from 2008 through 2009. Neither defendant has ever possessed a federal firearms license.

Starting as early as July 2005, and continuing through June 2012, the defendants were engaged in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. The manner and means utilized by the defendants to engage in their business of dealing in firearms included the advertisement and sale of over 100 firearms via the Internet to persons located in 44 different states across the nation. The defendants also attended over 60 gun shows in the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, during which they purchased over 400 firearms and sold over 500 firearms. At times, their purchase and subsequent sale of firearms would take place during the same gun show. Additionally, the defendants sold 9 firearms to undercover agents, solicited the purchase of firearms from undercover agents, and offered to acquire firearms for undercover agents.

As charged in the criminal indictment, Rafael Valdes, in addition to selling firearms without a federal firearms license, also made a material false statement in connection with the acquisition of three firearm frames and receivers, in that Rafael Valdes claimed he was the actual buyer of those firearm frames and receivers, when in fact and as he well knew, he was acquiring those firearm frames and receivers for other persons.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative and cooperative efforts of ATF, FBI, HSI, BSO, PBSO, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami Beach Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, Virginia Gardens Police Department, Hialeah Police Department, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam McMichael.

A criminal indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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