Puerto Rico ex-cop sentenced in historic firearms robbery

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mastermind / ˈmæs tərˌmaɪnd / (v.) – to plan and organize something, especially a crime, and make sure it's done successfully

    The person who masterminded the kidnapping was arrested.

  2. firearm / ˈfaɪərˌɑrm / (n.) – a gun that one can easily bring or carry, usually because it’s small

    The guards check everyone’s bags for firearms.

  3. decal / ˈdi kæl / (n.) – a picture, design, or label printed on a special paper and stuck onto a surface, such as metal or glass

    Only vehicles with the company’s decal can enter the area.

  4. fellow / ˈfɛl oʊ / (adj.) – used to refer to someone who has the same job or interest as another person

    My fellow doctor is retiring soon.

  5. decoy / ˈdi kɔɪ / (n.) – a person or thing that’s used to distract or trick others so that they will ignore someone or something else

    He acted as a decoy to distract the dog that was chasing the children.


Read the text below.

A former Puerto Rican police officer found guilty of masterminding the U.S. territory’s biggest firearms robbery in history has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

José Padilla-Galarza was convicted in May after authorities accused him of recruiting other suspects to help steal 125 firearms from a police shooting range in October 2010.

The suspects dressed up in fake uniforms pretending to be policemen, used a vehicle with fake police decals to enter the shooting range and assaulted and tied up the officers on duty before stealing the weapons, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.

Authorities said Padilla-Galarza had visited the shooting range multiple times in one year to become familiar with the personnel, their shifts and the facility’s layout ahead of the robbery.

Padilla-Galarza and his co-conspirators then sold the stolen weapons, which included 49 pistols, 40 AR-15 rifles and 24 shotguns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The former police officer was previously sentenced in October 2018 to 19 years in prison in an unrelated case in which authorities accused him of masterminding a bank robbery near the capital of San Juan. Padilla-Galarza and his fellow suspects were found guilty of stealing more than $64,000 and using decoy explosives.

Padilla-Galarza will serve that sentence consecutively with the new one, plus five years of supervised release.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • What do you think should be the punishment for cops who committed crimes (ex. they should never be allowed to return to service)? Discuss.
  • How do you think police departments can make sure that their police officers are trustworthy? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The suspects dressed up in fake police uniforms and used a vehicle with fake police decals to execute the robbery. What do you think the shooting range officers could’ve done to stop the suspects? Discuss.
  • After this incident, how do you think the police in Puerto Rico can regain a good reputation? Discuss.