A disgraced New Mexico state police officer who was drummed off the force for stealing gasoline from his fellow cops was busted at the Queens Midtown Tunnel for trying to pass himself off as law enforcement when a gun was found in his pick-up truck, police sources said.
Police are now trying to determine if Justin Romero is involved in gun trafficking crew that transports illegal weapons from New Mexico to New York, the sources said.
Romero, 29, was arrested about 2 p.m. Friday when Bridge and Tunnel officers conducted a routine traffic stop on the Queens side of the tunnel.
His Dodge Ram pickup truck was stopped for not having a front license plate or any registration and inspection stickers, sources said.
Romero flashed a commemorative New Mexico state police shield given out to mark the 80th anniversary of the department – but not a legitimate police shield – and said he was a cop. But when he couldn’t provide any ID, Bridge and Tunnel Police Officers Reginald Ledee and Jason Vasquez and their supervisor, Lt. John Seeger, got suspicious.
Romero claimed that he left the ID in his wallet, which he didn’t have on him, but a quick check proved he hadn’t been a cop in New Mexico for more than a year and a half.
After 342 days as a New Mexico state policeman, Romero was kicked off the force in June 2016 for filling up his girlfriend’s car with gas meant for department vehicles, New Mexico police confirmed.
After a loaded .45-caliber handgun was found inside a pocket on the driver’s-side door, Officers Ledee and Vasquez arrested Romero for impersonating a police officer, weapons possession, possession of a forged instrument — the commemorative shield — and driving without a license, cops said. His arraignment was pending Saturday.
Sources said that he was repeatedly questioned about gun trafficking but not charged.
Three people in the vehicle were questioned and let go after cops determined they were bringing sandwiches to Manhattan for a catering company, sources said.