Former Police Officer Found Guilty of Stealing 125 Firearms From the Puerto Rico Police Shooting Range at Isla De Cabra
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On May 6, 2022, following a ten-day bench trial, the Honorable Silvia Carreño-Coll found defendant José Padilla-Galarza guilty as charged in Counts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the superseding indictment, which included the following:
- Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act);
- Carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
- Stealing firearms;
- Prohibited person in possession of a firearm; and
- Interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act).
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Padilla-Galarza, a former Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) officer, used to visit the PRPB Isla de Cabra Shooting Range to become familiar with the personnel, their shifts, and the layout of the facility. Padilla-Galarza, as mastermind, planned the heist for over a year. The robbery took place on October 26, 2010. The co-conspirators assaulted, subdued, and bound the duty police officers and stole the firearms stored in the vault to subsequently sell them for significant pecuniary gain and profit.
The co-conspirators used a white Ford Crown Victoria attached with decals of the PRPB to give it the appearance of an official PRPB patrol car. Members of the conspiracy dressed as PRPB police officers, some in regular police uniforms and others in tactical uniforms. The 125 firearms stolen included two pistols taken from duty officers, 40 AR-15 rifles, 24 shotguns, nine 9mm carbines, one MP3 rifle, and 49 pistols.
This was the biggest firearms robbery in the history of Puerto Rico.
Padilla-Galarza now faces terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years for the Hobbs Act violations, a minimum of 5 years for carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (robbery), up to 10 years for stealing firearms, and up to 10 years for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lead the investigation with the collaboration of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The case was prosecuted and tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Max Pérez-Bouret and Jawayria Z. Auchter.