It’s one thing when cops enforce unjust laws. It’s quite another when one those cops is dirty-dealing firearms while tipping off his cousin so the family’s unlicensed dispensary can avoid inspections and raids.
At least, those are the charges laid on Marco Garmo, a retired San Diego sheriff’s captain, by federal prosecutors.
On Friday, Garmo was arrested for illegally distributing firearms as well as aiding and abetting the distribution of unlicensed weed while he was still working for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Five other individuals were charged in connection with Garmo’s suspected crimes.
"The indictment alleges that Garmo abused his position of public trust as a Sheriff’s department Captain in charge of the Rancho San Diego division,” said Peter Mazza, a federal attorney for the Southern District of California, to NBC San Diego. “In doing so, he purchased and sold over 100 firearms, dozens of which were off-roster handguns.”
Authorities have found and seized 64 firearms registered to Garmo. Another 27 guns registered to him remain at large.
The federal indictment claims that Garmo obtained the guns “off-roster,” misleading police departments which initially possessed the guns that the firearms were solely for him. Instead, he trafficked the guns with the help of a sheriff’s deputy and the owners of jewelry store, who facilitated the firearms sales through “strawman purchases.”
In addition to the firearms violations, Garmo is also being charged to aiding and abetting the distribution of cannabis. One of Garmo’s duties was patrolling Spring Valley for unlicensed pot shops, which operate in violation of California law. The indictment claims that he informed his cousin, who owns the unlicensed dispensary Campo Greens, that the dispensary would be inspected and potentially investigated by San Diego police. Federal prosecutors say Campo Greens temporarily closed shortly after this tip-off, then immediately reopened when the smoke cleared.
“Law enforcement officers, at any level, who abuse their positions and the sacred trust placed in them by the communities they serve by aiding the criminal element will ultimately be brought to justice,” FBI Assistant Special Agent-In-Charge Todd Hemmen said during a press conference.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Garmo sold the guns to help him raise funds for an aspiring campaign to run as San Diego’s head sheriff. Obviously, that run won’t be happening now.
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