In December, I received an email from a former police officer once featured in Miami New Times for blowing the whistle on dirty cops in the town of Golden Beach. Life had turned upside down for Tammy Valdes and her husband, Rafael, since she won a $233,000 judgment against the town in 2012 for unjustly firing her. The couple was looking at serious hard time following their conviction for tax evasion and for selling more than 500 firearms without a federal license at gun shows in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach.
The feds also convicted Jose Antonio Quintana, an ex-Miami Beach cop who introduced the Valdeses to the gun show game.
I met up with Rafael, who was a police trainer most of his career, and Tammy one afternoon at a Starbucks on Coral Way, where they recounted how they ended up as felonious gun runners. The couple maintained their innocence, claiming federal law allowed them to sell off their massive private gun collection without a license. They insisted they were victims of an elaborate revenge plot set in motion by her Golden Beach enemies. It was an incredible story that revealed the inner workings of gun show sales in one of the gun-friendliest states in the nation.
So I linked up with New Times contributor Jacob Katel to film a web doc about the Valdeses and Florida's wacky gun culture. It's called Cops and Guns in the Gunshine State. Check it out:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
To learn more about the federal government's case against Tammy and Rafael, go to copsandguns.com.