Ex tribal police chief, Anthony Reyes Vazquez, aged 49 admitted to selling badges worth a striking $300000 to affluent Los Angeles residents, illegally helping them procure permits to keep weapons in their possession. He pleaded guilty as he informed about his illegal shenanigans with other Manzanita Tribal Police Department officers.
The ex-tribal chief with his fellow officers created a group to target the wealthy residents allowing those that join access to privileged badges without any police interference or interrogation. The group was called, “VIP Group” but of course it wasn’t free and the members had to pay huge amounts which to the wealthy residents was just a smidgen sum of their money for a great deal.
The prosecutors have reported that the fees ranged from 5000$ to $100000. The enrolled group members were just residents with no background linking to law enforcement agencies.
“VIP GROUP” gives access to law enforcement badges
In exchange for the heavy sum that members had to pay they were given a badge that apparently granted them legal rights to carry weapons without ever having actually applied for a reservation at the police department. This obviously heavily compromised the safety of citizens and US attorney, Randy Grossman said that the defendant had sold these badges which are granted on the basis of investigation to random members jeopardizing the safety of people without any remorse.
Their manipulative and selfish plan was in strict violation of state laws that regulate the issuing of credentials to allow possession of weapons. The other side’s attorney didn’t give any remarks to the statements. The ex-tribal chief worked with the Manzanita Band whose reservation is near the US border with Mexico.
The prosecutors have reported that the state of California or the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not recognize the police force which grants them no authority to partake in law enforcement. Prosecutors have reached out to the Manzanita tribal office but the phone wasn’t picked up.
Vazquez receives a 10-year prison sentence for grave felony
In conclusion, Vazquez had severely undermined public safety by meddling with the federal and state law and put a lot of the state’s assets at stake to gather a huge sum of money for himself. Pocketing $300000 from the VIP Group, Vazquez hasn’t yet disclosed who he sold membership to at the tribal office.
Vazquez also pleaded guilty to his drug conviction in 1992 which banned his possession of weapons, which means he was in illegal possession of 24 weapons during his service as tribal chief for the Manzanita reservation in southern California.
Suzanne Turner, FBI Special Agent In Charge, said that this ploy not only damaged the funding of Manzanita Band but also allowed the untrained officers to believe they could carry concealed weapons by receiving legal authority from paying to a group without any intervention from law enforcement agencies.
Vazquez will receive his sentence on January 24th, which will put him behind bars for 10 years as he serves his time in prison for committing such a grave felony.