Six individuals were charged Wednesday by federal officials in connection with their involvement in a spree of home invasion robberies, including one in Flower Mound and other areas targeting residents of Indian and Asian ancestry.
“The armed robberies allegedly committed by this organized criminal group were horrific home invasions that spread fear through Asian and Indian communities across multiple states,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell in a news release. “This indictment is the first step in holding responsible those accused of carrying out armed robberies that were both life threatening and ethnically targeted.”
“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants used online research to target their victims from a distance, traveled to their homes, and then carried out the robberies while the victims were at home,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. “The defendants either broke in or used a female decoy to knock, luring victims to open the door. Once the door was open, the robbers would charge inside with guns and threats of violence, round up all the adults and children into one room, and bind them with duct tape before ransacking the house and stealing valuables. We are grateful for the outstanding work of federal, state and local law enforcement in various jurisdictions to connect the dots and put this case together.”
Four people were arrested by North Texas law enforcement after a Flower Mound home invasion on Dec. 7. The first suspect was captured at the scene of a home invasion in the Suncrest neighborhood. The crime spree started Sunday night at 9 p.m. when three males and a female armed with handguns, wearing ski masks, forced their way inside the home of a family of six in the 5600 block of Suncrest Drive in Flower Mound. The incident was the latest in a series of home invasions across North Texas targeting families of Indian descent, according to FMPD Capt. Wess Griffin.
One of the victims was able to call 911 and police arrived three minutes later, according to FMPD Capt. Kurt Labhart. A family member was assaulted during the home invasion, but no serious injuries were reported, police said.
Three suspects then entered Lewisville on foot. A 48-year-old man was arriving home at 10:40 p.m. in the 1500 block of Sunswept Terrace in Lewisville, a few blocks away from the home invasion, when one of the three men punched him in the face and took his vehicle, a blue Nissan Versa.
The suspects then fled to Carrollton where police attempted to make a traffic stop in the 2000 block of Arbor Creek at Lone Star Drive and Arbor Creek around 11 p.m. Two of the three men inside fled from the car, Carrollton police officials said. One suspect who remained inside was detained immediately. Carrollton police continued their search, finding a second suspect at 5:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of Espinosa Drive after a short pursuit just a couple of blocks from where police made the initial traffic stop.
Carrollton police recovered the vehicle from the Lewisville robbery as well as two handguns. A fourth suspect was arrested without incident early Thursday by U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Task Force in Houston.
Police recovered a large amount of jewelry, cash, electronics and other items – some of which have been tied to crimes committed in Flower Mound, Allen and Coppell, Felty said, leading officials to believe the spree of crimes in North Texas were connected.
The federal charges were the result of a multi-state investigation between Michigan and Texas as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Invesgitation and other entities.
“Combating violent crime is among the highest of priorities for the FBI. There is nothing more important than protecting our communities and keeping law abiding citizens safe in their own homes,” noted Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will maintain its resolve and continue the fight against violent criminal offenders.”
Houston residents Chaka LeChar Castro, 40, Juan Olaya, 35, and Octavius Scott, 22, and Jakeyra Augustus, 21, of La Marque were charged with engaging in a RICO conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and four counts of use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the release. Rodney Granger, 19, and Johnisha Williams, 19, both also of Houston, were charged with engaging in a RICO conspiracy. All six remain in custody.
In an indictment, the six were alleged to have committed four armed home invasion robberies in the greater Ann Arbor area over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, as well as additional armed robberies in the greater Dallas area including Flower Mound last December.
The group, according to the indictment, used female decoys to gain entrance. Once inside, the individuals wore disguises of masks or bandanas and brandished fire arms, forcing individuals inside the homes into a single room. Some were allegedly assigned to bind victims with tape or watch them while others ransacked the homes for cash, jewelry and electronics.
Castro was identified as the leader, according to the indictment, and allegedly coordinated with Olaya to outline targets through Internet research, identifying families of Asian and Indian ancestry. Crews were then assigned to carry out the armed robberies, according to the indictment.
The case will be prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kelly Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Douglas C. Salzenstein of the Eastern District of Michigan, according to the news release.