Former BCSO sheriff and Laguna Pueblo police chief named in machine gun conspiracy scheme
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and former Laguna Pueblo Police Chief Rudy Mora have been named in a federal indictment involving serious allegations. It describes a conspiracy to traffick hundreds of fully-automatic guns.
Federal investigators say the two are connected to a scheme to illegally buy and sell more than 1,000 guns the ATF classifies as machine guns.
They are not facing charges, but six other people are.
Federal prosecutors say the case spans at least four states. Three top law enforcement officials who are either police chiefs or sheriffs are facing charges, and so are three licensed gun dealers, including one in Albuquerque.
According to the indictment, Gonzales and Mora played critical roles. They submitted requests for the guns, lying to the feds about the reason why they wanted them.
They were using a process where law enforcement can ask for guns for demonstrations within their departments. Federal prosecutors said they had no intention of doing that. They only wanted the guns to be illegally sold.
Gonzales allegedly requested 598 guns from 2015 to 2020 – all while he was the BCSO sheriff and before his unsuccessful run for Albuquerque mayor. Prosecutors note that the requests came after the department had phased out using fully-automatic guns.
Mora, who was also Gonzales’ undersheriff at the BCSO, allegedly asked for 414 guns from 2020 to 2021.
A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the department is aware of the allegations, and “Sheriff (John) Allen takes such allegations seriously.”
They said the department has been in communication with investigators.
KOB 4 called Gonzales but did not hear back and reached out to Laguna Pueblo police, but no one had a comment on the matter.
The Albuquerque gun dealer facing charges in the case is James Tafoya.
The indictment indicates he owned gun shops at a location in southeast Albuquerque, south of Central Ave.
Federal prosecutors said he worked with Gonzales and Mora, and all their requests for guns involved him.
He faces charges for illegally importing guns and making false statements.
The indictment lists 6 counts, which would mean a maximum of 30 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.
A news report from the nonprofit Marylandmatters.org shows Tafoya has already appeared in a Baltimore court, and a judge released him until trial.
The feds charged a gun store owner in Maryland with actually having some of the fully-automatic rifles in question and trying to sell them, and in the indictment, there’s no evidence any of the guns made it to New Mexico.
The federal indictment from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Maryland was recently unsealed.
The following agencies have been involved in the case:
- Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office
- New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office
- New Mexico Attorney General’s Office
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division
- Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security