State police: DPS gun found in Alaska was sold by department

Created: 04/09/2014 11:00 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

KOB Eyewitness News 4 received a document Wednesday that raised questions about how the New Mexico Department of Public Safety keeps track of its weapons.

Former instructors at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy say a gun registered to DPS went missing from the agency's inventory and ended up thousands of miles away.

A memo from the Department of Justice National Tracing Center shows a Glock .357 handgun registered to the NMDPS was recovered during a traffic stop in Alaska in 2012.

"There were firearms that just couldn't be accounted for," said attorney Joe Campbell.

Campbell is suing big players at New Mexico DPS for allegedly punishing four former Law Enforcement Academy instructors after they raised concerns guns were missing from the agency's inventory.

"There were firearms that were missing," said Campbell.

KOB has obtained exclusive evidence one of those missing guns found its way from Santa Fe to Fairbanks, Alaska.

On Dec. 2, 2012 a Glock .357 handgun registered to the New Mexico DPS was found in the possession of 26-year-old Saxon Quinn Ewing when he was stopped by Fairbanks police for driving without a license.

Ewing's Facebook says he's a U.S. Army sniper.

The Fairbanks district attorney told KOB the officer who arrested Ewing impounded the car he was driving, and took the weapon into evidence but it's not clear when it was determined the gun belonged to DPS -- but a trace from the Department of Justice shows someone from Fairbanks PD reported it.

Shortly after, former academy instructor Phil Gallegos received a call from Fairbanks telling him they had the gun.

In a lawsuit claiming whistle-blower retailiation, Gallegos claims he told  then DPS secretary Gorden Eden about the discovery, and was told not to discuss it.

"Once that came down that's really where the retaliation started," said Campbell.

When the whistle-blowers tried to report the missing guns, the lawsuit claims they were told to keep quiet by DPS brass.

"They started tracking this down, and within a week they were told they were not to investigate anything regarding the firearms," said Campbell.

KOB spent all day Wednesday trying to contact current and former DPS brass for comment about the gun found in Alaska.

Only 15 minutes before KOB Eyewitness News at 10 on Wednesday, New Mexico State Police chief Pete Kassetas called KOB and said the gun recovered in Fairbanks was not missing.

It was sold legally by DPS to a broker who likely resold it, also legally.

Kassetas told KOB he is gathering the supporting documents to prove that gun was legally sold, and KOB will update this story as those documents are made available.

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