Justice Department Announces Charges in Connection with Foiled Plot to Assassinate U.S. Citizen in New York City
A federal jury in Detroit, Michigan, found a Colombian man guilty of all charges in a nine-count indictment charging him with Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conspiracy and other violent crimes, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.
Juan Olaya, 39, of Buenaventura, Colombia, was a leader of an armed robbery crew that traveled the United States committing armed home invasions. Evidence at trial established that the defendant and his crew exclusively targeted families of Indian and Asian descent for their crimes.
Following a two-week trial, Olaya was convicted of one count of RICO conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and four counts of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2020, before U.S. District Court Judge Laurie J. Michelson of the Eastern District of Michigan, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, Olaya and his robbery crew committed a string of home invasions in Georgia, New York, Michigan and Texas in 2014. The organizer of the crew, Chaka Castro, ran the enterprise from 2011 through 2014. Castro generated lists of robbery targets in various states around the county, specifically families of Asian and Indian ancestry, and assigned crews to carry out the armed robberies of these families within their homes. Olaya was the road boss of one such crew, who recruited other members and assigned roles to those members. Olaya and crew members traveled to certain locations, conducted surveillance and executed the robberies.
The crew utilized a particular modus operandi in each of the robberies. Members disguised their appearance with clothing and bandanas so that victims would have difficulty identifying them. They openly carried and brandished firearms to gain control of the victims and then immediately corralled the victims, including children, into one location in the home. At least one crew member then restrained the victims using duct tape and threats of violence, as another ransacked the home in search of cash, jewelry and electronics to steal. The crew organized their trips to involve multiple home invasion robberies over a series of days.
The FBI’s Ann Arbor Office investigated the case with the assistance of federal agencies including U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Secret Service and local law enforcement agencies in Michigan, including Washtenaw County Sherriff’s Office, Ann Arbor Police Department and Canton Police Department; local law enforcement agencies in Ohio, including Beachwood Police Department; local law enforcement agencies in Georgia, including the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, Cobb County Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Duluth Police Department and Milton Police Department; local law enforcement agencies in New York, including Nassau County Police Department; the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies in Texas including Allen Police Department, Coppell Police Department, Flower Mound Police Department, Carrollton Police Department, Lewisville Police Department and Southlake Police Department.
Trial Attorneys Conor Mulroe and Beth Lipman of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.