Fifteen Violent Jewelry Robbers Have Been Arrested for 11 Robberies and Attempted Robberies Targeting Traveling Jewelry Salesmen in Five States
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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fifteen defendants who were wanted by the FBI for their suspected involvement in a series of violent robberies against traveling jewelry salesmen across the United States, have been arrested, the last of whom on Sept. 2, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Eric K. Jackson of the FBI Dallas Field Office.

An indictment and three superseding indictments, issued in Feb. 18, 2016; Jan. 24, 2017; Nov. 21, 2017; and Jan. 23, 2018, respectively, charge the 15 defendants, all Colombian nationals, with the following offenses relating to the 11 robberies/attempted robberies:

Jonathan David Malpica, 33

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Tito Andres Vargas Urbina, 31

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Roger Zamora, aka Jaime Alba Juarez, 40

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Camila Andrea Espitia, 23

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Mohammed Natour, 32

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Omar Gonzalez, 38

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Fabrizia Cavanna Sarmiento, aka Fabrizia Cavanna, 41

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Andres Felipe Henao, 32

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Brayan David Vargas Londono, aka Brayan Vargas, Brayan David Vargas Gonzalez, Mario Steven Cuellar, Joshua Steven

Cavarez, Blanco Elizanoro Recioachach, 25

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Rodolfo Vargas Londono, aka Christian Vargas, 30

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Luis Garcia, 31

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Catherine Salas, 34

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

Erika Gutierrez Machado, aka Angela Cuebas, 45

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

James Jeanphier Tobar Ramon, aka Panda, Jonathan Tapia, Jhonatan Vasquez Toloza, 27

RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery

Jesus Jean Pool Tovar, aka Yakusa, 24

Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery

The indictments charge the defendants for their alleged involvement in 11 robberies/attempted robberies in five states, from 2014 through 2016:

Date (on or about)

Robbery Location

Sept. 26, 2014

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Jan. 30, 2015

Dallas, Texas

March 31, 2015

Miami Beach, Florida

July 8, 2015

Houston, Texas

Sept. 3, 2015

Dallas, Texas

Oct. 26, 2015

Houston, Texas

Nov. 10, 2015

Hollywood, Florida

Nov. 15, 2015

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dec. 6, 2015

Vienna, Virginia

Jan. 21, 2016

Farmers Branch, Texas

Jan. 27, 2016

Dallas, Texas

The series of indictments charged that the members and associates of the robbery enterprise allegedly operated in the following ways:

  • Members of the enterprise and their associates allegedly obtained rental vehicles, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and other short-term housing, and opened bank accounts and obtained bank cards and credit cards using fraudulent identification documents to facilitate the robberies and surveillance operations;
  • Members of the enterprise and their associates allegedly conducted surveillance on diamond and jewelry stores and traveling diamond and jewelry salesmen in order to identify prospective robbery victims, using teams of individuals to watch the stores from their vehicles and on foot;
  • Members of the enterprise and their associates allegedly blocked-in the vehicles of traveling diamond and jewelry salesmen and often disabled the vehicles by, among other means, flattening the vehicles’ tires and breaking the vehicles’ windows;
  • Members of the enterprise and their associates allegedly used violence, threats of violence, and weapons, including BB guns, knives, blades, and center punches; and
  • Members of the enterprise and their associates allegedly sold the stolen diamonds, jewels, jewelry, and other goods to individuals who buy and sell stolen goods (“fences”), including an individual who traveled from Colombia to the United States to purchase the stolen goods, and then split the proceeds of their unlawful activities.

Further investigative efforts led to the location and arrest of all 15 defendants, the most recent of which took place on Sept. 2, when Tobar was arrested in Miami, Florida, by the Miami Beach Police Department Robberies Unit, in coordination with the FBI.

Rodolfo Vargas Londono, Cavanna, and Brayan David Vargas Londono, were all arrested in Colombia by the Colombian National Police, DIJIN Vetted Team, on Oct. 27, 2017, Dec. 24, 2017, and Feb. 12, 2018, respectively.

The other 11 defendants were arrested in the United States from 2016 through 2017.

“The defendants allegedly embarked on a multi-state spree of violent robberies, putting the lives of their victims and other innocent civilians at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “Thanks to the dedication and cooperative efforts of prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas, along with our partners with the FBI Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force, all 15 defendants indicted for this interstate armed robbery conspiracy have been apprehended and now must face justice.  I especially thank our Colombian law enforcement partners for their hard work in securing the arrest of three fugitives in this important case.”

“These individuals painstakingly surveilled, menaced, and violently robbed salespeople in the Northern District of Texas and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox.  “My office is committed to rooting out these kinds of criminal conspiracies. I thank our law enforcement partners – both here in the United States and in Colombia – for helping us bring these defendants to justice.”

“The investigation and indictments of this violent and dangerous foreign criminal enterprise by the personnel of the Dallas FBI Office, our law enforcement partners, and prosecutors hopefully have sent a clear message,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jackson.  “We have no tolerance for those who would violate the sovereignty of the United States to further their criminal goals and we will bring you to justice no matter where in the world you are located.”

To date, nine defendants in total pleaded guilty to charges relating to the robberies:

  • Gonzalez pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on July 27, 2017. Gonzalez was sentenced to 66 months in prison on Feb. 20.
  • Urbina pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on Aug. 29, 2017, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Malpica pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on Sept. 5, 2017, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Machado pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery on Sept. 5, 2017. Machado was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Jan. 22.
  • Salas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery on Oct. 31, 2017, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Henao pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery on Jan. 9, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Natour pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on March 13, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Zamora pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on March 20, and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery on March 27, and is awaiting sentencing.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force investigated the case, with assistance from the Colombian National Police, DIJIN Vetted Team. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition matters.  Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Robinson of the Northern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
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