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Press Release | NO. 2004-109

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Press Release # 109
Wednesday September 29, 2004

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, United States Attorney For The Southern District Of New York David N. Kelley, And Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms And Explosives New York Field Divison Special Agent In Charge William G. Mcmahon, Announce Arrest Of Members Of A Violent Robbery Ring

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, United States Attorney for the Southern District David N. Kelley, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives New York Field Division Special Agent in Charge William G. McMahon today announced the arrest of 19 members of a violent robbery ring who often impersonated police officers to carry out their crimes. The New York City Police Department
Internal Affairs Bureau, Police Impersonation Unit along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested the 19 individuals in morning raids in Manhattan and the Bronx. The robbery ring members, known for using mock badges, handcuffs, and bullet resistant vests, are being charged with crimes including homicide, kidnapping, and robbery.

Those arrested today are wanted for the commission of 81 crimes over the last four years. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over a dozen firearms, tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and numerous facsimile police shields and police-style bullet resistant vests.

Commissioner Kelly said: "These individuals frequently identified themselves as police officers, even displayed replica police shields, to gain the trust of victims before committing crimes. The Internal Affairs Bureau Police Impersonation Unit did outstanding investigative work and these arrests send a strong message to those who think they can get away with impersonating police officers."

Diligent detective work exposed the vast scope of the ring after the discovery of a single piece of evidence. On April, 16, 2002, in the 45 Precinct, individuals arrested today gained entry to an apartment by falsely identifying themselves as police officers. The perpetrators sought to rob the apartment of a drug dealer, but entered the wrong apartment. Inside, one of the perpetrators menaced a small child before the gang realized they had entered the wrong location. A detective's success in identifying this individual through an investigative technique led to the identification of the entire robbery ring.

On April 27, 2002, Police responded to a robbery in progress at 751 Coster Avenue in the Bronx. One of the accused, who was arrested today, fired gunshots at a New York Police Department sergeant. The sergeant was not injured in the incident, but the suspect fled and was at large until his capture today.

On August 24, 2002, individuals arrested today attempted a home invasion robbery at 3555 Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx. A resident of the building, Elvis Gonzalez, who attempted to flee was shot twice and died from his injuries. The suspect in this homicide was at large until his arrest today.

On April 5, 2002, individuals arrested today kidnapped a small business owner after identifying themselves as police officers. A convenience store owner returning to his residence, 248 Newman Avenue in the Bronx, was confronted and handcuffed by suspects falsely identifying themselves as Police officers. He was then taken from his residence to his place of business where his store was robbed. All the suspects wanted in this incident were arrested today.

On January 7, 2002, individuals arrested today attempted a robbery on a check cashing establishment. After failing to gain entry to the store, located at 603 Westchester Avenue in the Bronx, the perpetrators took the store security guard hostage and drove him off site. Despite the kidnapping of the security guard, the robbery was unsuccessful and the guard was released unharmed. All of the perpetrators in this case were arrested today.

Those arrested today include: Luis Sanchez, Juan Matos, William C. Suarez, Jose Antonetti, Jose Fernandez, Ariel Bruno, Victor Alejandro, Felicia Castillo, Javier Robles, Derrilyn Needham, Joey Figueroa, Christian Quinones, Donovan Francis, William Mendoza, Corey Thompson, Michael Cardoza, David Tiru, Barron Gonzalez, and Richard Rivera.

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