SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – United States District Court Judge Silvia Carreño Coll sentenced José Padilla-Galarza to a total of 25 years’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release for the theft of 125 firearms. Specifically, the defendant will be serving 20 years of imprisonment for his conviction on May 6, 2022, for counts One and Six, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act), concurrent with 10 years of imprisonment for his conviction on counts Three and Five, stealing firearms and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He will also serve 5 years of imprisonment, consecutive to the 20-year sentence, for his conviction under count Two, carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
“As proven at trial, the defendant, a former Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) officer, used his specialized knowledge of the PRPB to enrich himself by stealing and selling firearms,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The sentence imposed demonstrates the seriousness of defendant’s crimes and the Justice Department’s determination to investigate and prosecute such a blatant abuse of trust. Thanks to the diligent work of ATF, ICE-HSI, the FBI, and our trial team, the defendant will spend decades in federal prison for his crimes.”
During the trial, the government presented evidence that showed that Padilla-Galarza visited the PRPB Isla de Cabra Shooting Range on multiple occasions over a one-year period to become familiar with the personnel, their shifts, and the layout of the facility. Padilla-Galarza, as mastermind of the October 26, 2010, robbery at the range, took this time to plan how he and his co-conspirators would take 125 firearms from this PRBP facility, including two pistols taken from duty officers, 40 AR15 rifles, 24 shotguns, nine 9mm carbines, one MP3 rifle, and 49 pistols.
During the robbery, the co-conspirators used a white Ford Crown Victoria with fake PRPB decals to give it the appearance of an official PRPB patrol car and dressed as PRPB police officers, some in regular police uniforms and others in tactical uniforms. The co-conspirators assaulted, subdued, and bound the duty police officers at the range and stole the firearms stored in the vault to subsequently sell them for significant pecuniary gain and profit. This was the biggest firearms robbery in the history of Puerto Rico.
Padilla-Galarza’s 25-year sentence of imprisonment in this Hobbs Act case is also to be served consecutive to the 228-month term of imprisonment imposed by United States District Judge Daniel R. Dominguez on October 15, 2018, for conspiracy to commit bank robbery and bank robbery by force.
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.