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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Monday, March 19, 2018

Federal Firearms Dealer Sentenced to 78 Months for His Role in Trafficking Firearms to Mexico

     TUCSON, Ariz. – Last week, Timothy Alan Veninga, 48, of Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Soto to 78 months’ imprisonment and a judgment of forfeiture of over $61,000. Veninga had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and abetting false statements in firearms transactions, false statements to government agency, tampering, and identity theft. On July 6, 2017, Veninga’s co-defendant, Joe Valles, a former Tucson Police Department officer, was also sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment for his role in the trafficking scheme. 

     Veninga, owner of Ballistic Firearms in Tucson and Valles, a business partner who operated a firearm painting business on the premises of Ballistic Firearms, were involved in a scheme in which they paid individuals who were not the actual purchasers of firearms to complete and sign ATF Forms 4473 (Firearms Transaction Record), while leaving the date and firearm information section blank.  Veninga and Valles also used the identities of two other people (which had been obtained while Valles was working as a police officer for Tucson Police Department) who were not the actual purchasers of firearms without their permission to complete and sign Forms 4473.  Veninga and Valles used the fraudulent Forms 4473 to document multiple firearms transactions and create records retained by Veninga, which falsely represented the identities of the purchasers, thereby concealing the identities of the true buyers.  The conspiracy involved a minimum of 31 firearm transactions involving 24 semi-automatic pistols (varying calibers) and seven rifles, including one semi-automatic assault rifle, one semi-automatic high-capacity rifle, and two .50 caliber semi-automatic rifles.  Evidence from the investigation established that these firearms were sold to members from Mexico drug cartels and that the firearms were intended for Mexico. 

     The investigation in this case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The prosecution was handled by Serra M. Tsethlikai and Karen Rolley, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.


CASE NUMBER:            CR-16-1059-TUC-JAS   

RELEASE NUMBER:    2018-028_Veninga


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Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 
2018-028_Veninga / CR-16-1059-TUC-JAS
Updated March 19, 2018