The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that former Puerto Rican police officer José Padilla-Galarza, who was found guilty of masterminding the U.S. territory’s biggest firearms robbery in history, will spend 20 years in jail.

W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, said that as proven at trial, the former Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) officer used "his specialized knowledge" of the bureau to "enrich himself by stealing and selling firearms." He added that the jail sentence imposed on the former cop demonstrates the seriousness of his "crimes and the Justice Department’s determination to investigate and prosecute such a blatant abuse of trust." He also thanked many teams, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their "diligent work" due to which the "defendant will spend decades in federal prison for his crimes."

This comes after he was convicted in May. Previously, authorities accused him of recruiting others to help in stealing 125 firearms from a police shooting range in October 2010, reported the Associated Press.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, the suspects, who dressed up in fake uniforms pretending to be cops, used a vehicle with fake police decals to enter the shooting range. They used the decals to give it the appearance of an official PRPB patrol car. Once they entered, they assaulted and tied up the officers on duty before stealing the weapons. Padilla-Galarza had visited the PRPB Isla de Cabra Shooting Range many times in one year, said authorities.

He did so to become familiar with the personnel, their shifts and the facility’s layout before carrying out the robbery of the weapons. Padilla-Galarza and other suspects then sold the stolen weapons. The list of weapons included 40 AR-15 rifles, 24 shotguns and 49 pistols.

Padilla-Galarza was previously sentenced in October 2018 to 19 years in jail in an unrelated case. In that case authorities accused him of masterminding a bank robbery near the capital of San Juan. He and other suspects were found guilty of stealing more than $64,000 and also using decoy explosives. He will serve that sentence consecutively with the latest one, in addition to five years of supervised release.

This is a representational image. Ichigo121212/Pixabay

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