News and Press Releases

Trio of Illegal Aliens Sentenced in Ft. Pierce Armed Robbery Plot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announce yesterday’s sentencings of Geovani Alexander Velasquez-Sales, 33, of Lake Worth, Florida, Sail Emiliano Martinez, 31, of Lake Worth, Florida, and Jose Espindola-Rosales, 21, of West Palm Beach, Florida. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Velasquez-Sales to 97 months in prison, Martinez to 84 months in prison, and Espindola-Rosales to 80 months in prison. All defendants, who were illegally in the United States, will be deported after the completion of their prison sentences.

All three defendants had previously pled guilty to various crimes of violence. On January 31, 2012, Jose Espindola-Rosales and Sail Emiliano Martinez pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence (robbery), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a), and carrying and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A). Geovani Velasquez-Sales pled guilty on February 1, 2012 to charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence (robbery), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a), carrying and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1), and illegal reentry by a previously removed alien, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Sections 1326 (a)(1) and (b)(1).

According to filed documents and statements made in court, in early September 2011, members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Violent Gang Task Force learned that Velasquez-Sales and Martinez were recruiting others to take part in the robbery of money couriers, who were identified as possible money launderers working with check cashing businesses in Ft. Pierce. During the investigation that followed, HSI agents conducted a series of undercover meetings in which Velasquez-Sales discussed his attempts to obtain a firearm to commit the robbery. Velasquez-Sales, Martinez, and Espindola-Rosales conducted surveillance of several locations in Ft. Pierce and Orlando, Florida, where the purported money couriers would be located.

On September 9, 2011, the trio of conspirators traveled to the Circle K gas station on Delaware Avenue in Ft. Pierce to meet with individuals whom they believed to be members of a criminal gang. These gang members, however, were actually undercover law enforcement officers. During planning of the robbery scheme, the defendants outlined the plan to the undercover officers. According to the plan, the defendants would wait for the couriers to pick up the money from a local store in Ft. Pierce and then follow the couriers as they transported the money to Orlando. Once in Orlando, the defendants planned to forcibly take the money from the couriers by smashing a car window and putting a gun to the head of one of the couriers. Velasquez-Sales and Martinez provided the undercover officers with a loaded .45 caliber pistol to use during the robbery.

After the undercover officer relinquished the firearm to law enforcement, members of HSI Violent Gang Task Force, in conjunction with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and Ft. Pierce Police Department, arrested the defendants.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI, the Hialeah Police Department, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and the Ft. Pierce Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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