Skip to comments.REESE TRIAL – ATF S/A Valles testifies (NM ATF)
Posted on 07/31/2012 7:19:35 AM PDT by marktwain
Carlos Valles (sp?), a Special Agent with the BATFE (ATF) out of Las Cruces was the lead investigator in the ATF portion of the case, but not the overall case agent for the entire case. (HSI Special Agent Eddie Pacheco was the lead case agent.) S/A Valles has a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and is fluent in Spanish. His duties are to enforce violations of federal firearms laws. S/A Valles explained that ATF is divided into two sections, the criminal enforcement side (the side he works for), and the regulations compliance section. The two sides work together at times.
Carlos Valles explained that in late August 2010, Las Cruces ATF received a call from LCSO Officer Allen Bass, and explained they had been notified of suspicious purchase(s) involving Penny Torres.
S/A Valles requested all 4473 forms. He explained the 4473 forms are the firearms transaction records, which records the purchaser. He stated this is the ultimate key the ATF uses to trace firearms purchasers. Valles explained that there is no national database of firearms, and that ATF is specifically prohibited from maintaining firearms owner transactions (purchases) or disposition records. The ATF relies on FFLs (Federal Firearms Licensed dealers) to maintain accurate records. FFLs are licensed to conduct firearm sale.
Valles was asked how ATF get involved in a case if there is no database. Valles explained that at crime scenes, weapons have serial numbers, and ATF can trace the weapon from the manufacturer, to the FFL who purchased it, and then to the first person who purchases it from a FFL. Valles described how law enforcement can submit a request to trace a weapon senrial number, and then monitor the progress of the trace and the trace results. Once the trace is completed, the national trace center contacts the gun dealer (FFL). Since FFLs maintain proper records, they can determine who the weapon was sold to.
Valles went on to explain the A&D logs, which are logs maintained by FFLs of every weapons purchased (new or used) and the disposition (sale) of the weapon (who/when sold to).
S/A Valles went over some of the evidence in the case, which included a fax received by New Deal from the national trace center, with the request for information on who purchased the weapon. S/A Valles explained that when a firearm is recovered, there in no information on the form to the FFL that indicates where the weapon was recovered or under what circumstances.
S/A Valles requested copies of all 4473s involving purchases made by Penny Torres, which includes identifiers (SSN, DOB). New Deal attempted to send the information back via fax, however, there was a problem, and New Deal ultimately wound up complying with the request by sending it thru the mail. (Permitted.) All firearms purchased by Torres were put into the suspect weapon program. He was later informed another one of these weapons was recovered in Mexico. Penny Torres was also flagged in the NIC (phonetic) system, which would prevent her from purchasing any more weapons, as she had become suspected of being a straw purchaser.
S/A Valles investigated Penny Torres.
FFL New Deal completed a multiple handgun sales report on the pistols Torres purchased, however, he stated he ran a trace on the handguns in early September and ATF didnt received the report until October 2010. [There was no additional explanation or details.]
Torres was under physical surveillance in Deming, and law enforcement attempted to place trackers on her vehicle as they were trying to determine who she was a straw purchaser for.
S/A Valles recalled that he called New Deal to set up an appointment to interview Terri regarding the Torres purchases. Valles stated he set up the interview with Terri for 09/24/2010. Valles stated he and S/A Martinez (HSI) arrived to conduct the interview and had to wait 15-20 minutes because she was busy with customers. Valles states Terri talked to them and was cooperative and gave a brief interview. They had to follow her around the store while she was working and she was not giving them her full attention. Terri never mentioned any other person coming in with Torres except for the kids.
In mid-October, he learned Torres as an associate of Jose Roman. They decided to follow up that lead and submitted a request to New Deal for other purchase documents.
After information was received in October, they set up an interview with Rick Reese, since Ricks name is the name listed on the FFL. They set an appointment for October 28, 2010, and spoke with him in the parking lot. The asked for Ricks (sales) receipts during the interview, and Rick told them he couldnt provide them because his CPA in AZ had them, and he wouldnt give them without a subpoena. S/A Valles stated the receipts they wanted were located on the property during the search warrant. S/A claimed because of this Rick wasnt being truthful with them.
Defense attorneys objected pointing out the documents were not on the properly in Oct 2011, and the search wasnt conducted until Aug 2011, and there is no foundation. Defense requested the comment about being truthful be stricken from the record. The judge did strike those comments from the record.
S/A Valles continued and stated by that time they knew there was a link between Roman and Torres and were trying to determine if Torres was in the store with Roman. He stated Rick recalled that Penny came in with children, and didnt recall anyone else. Valles stated Rick gave the interview, and at times talked about unrelated items. The interview was lengthy and random since Rick was going off topic. A decision was made to continue the investigation.
On December 13, a decision was made to contact Torres. She was still flagged in NIC and still under surveillance.
She was contacted approximately December 13th. She agreed to cooperate and she voluntarily came to HSI in Deming.
The defense objected to redundancy and the Judge told the prosecutor to move on.
Valles took part in the arrest of Roman because of the Penny Torres firearms angle. He explained that ATF was part of the New Deal investigation because typically FFLs under investigation involves ATF.
Valles participated in the search warrant at New Deal and identified various ATF related documents seized from New Deal, including his FFL license, and some of the A&D logs.
Agent Valles explained some of the details about an AK47, a high power, magazine fed, gas operated weapon, with 7.62x39mm ammo, used by military and para-military persons, and described it as functional and smooth. The Judge interrupted and asked Agent Valles what AK stood for. Agent Valles couldnt remember what the A stood for, but the K stands for Kalisnikov.
Valles then went on to explain what an AR is and that both are high power, magazine fed, gas operated, similar to the AK, but using a different caliber of ammunition, .223. He also described the pistols purchase (9mm) and a Barrett 50 caliber gun, which is a very high power, bolt action, that is primarily used by law enforcement as a sniper rifle, that is used in the prone position, as it has too much power to shoot from the standing up position.
Defense Attorney Sedillo asked Agent Valles if he and S/A Martinez made an appointment to interview Rick, and he replied yes. Sedillo asked if during the interview of Rick if they asked about Roman. Agent Valles stated Terri was busy. Sedillo also asked him if he knew that when S/A Martinez ran into Terri at KMart (possibly Walmart) that Terri told him she was available for follow-up anytime, he replied he wasnt aware of that.
Regarding the request to send back information to the National Trace Center, Valles admitted that all information returned was correct, and that either Terri or Rick had sent it back.
Agent Valles stated the A&D logs were filled out correctly, except that Penny Torres was not the actual purchaser. Attorney Sedillo pointed out that that is a question for the Jury to decide because the 4473 matches the A&D logs.
Attorney Sedillo asked a series of questions:
Did Penny Torres walk into New Deal? Yes.
Did she sign the 4473 as the purchaser? Yes.
Did she provide her information? Yes.
Did she pay for the purchases? Yes.
Did she fill out the 4473 form? Yes.
She asked if there were any phone calls from Torres and he advised there was one recorded which was reflected in his report as an interview. He didnt recall how long the interview was, but on questioning agreed that it was minutes.
Defense Attorney Jason Bowles continued questioning S/A Valles on this phone call, which was on January 21. Bowles asked if that call was on the same day Roman was arrested. Bowles hesitated and asked to look at his file. On the last page of the interview the phone call lasted 33 minutes.
There was a discussion about a transcript, and they wanted to know where the transcript came from as the AUSA hadnt sent the transcript. Agent Valles stated he had never seen the transcript before, and stated he had notes, but they were not verbatim. Valles stated he didnt give to her. (Not sure if the reference was to a transcript of the phone call, or his notes, and the her might be one of the prosecutors in the case.)
Bowles asked if Penny Torres was worried about getting arrested because of her children. [All I heard Valles state in response was, "Uhhhhh...."]
The Judge asked if Valles was satisfied that the paper he had been handed was a transcript, and Valles stated he wanted to see his file, since he hadnt seen this paper before as he had only done a summary report. Valles was given his investigative file, and the Judge called for a break to give him time to review.
Continued in separate post.