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Press Release

Rip Crew Co-Conspirator Sentenced to 117 Months for Robbery, Drug Trafficking, and Firearms Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – Abelardo Rodriguez-Arvizu, 38, of Mexico, was sentenced on March 3, 2023, by United States District Court Judge Jennifer G. Zipps to 117 months in prison. Rodriguez-Arvizu was found guilty following a bench trial of one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, and Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Offense. 

On October 24, 2015, United States Border Patrol (USBP) agents encountered Rodriguez-Arvizu and several other individuals in the desert south of Tucson. Rodriguez-Arvizu and his co-conspirators were part of a drug “rip crew” whose goal was to rob marijuana backpackers of their drug loads. When Border Patrol agents arrived, Rodriguez-Arvizu fled, but forensic testing later revealed his DNA on a water jug and jacket left behind. Rodriguez-Arvizu and his co-conspirators were armed with at least five semi-automatic firearms, body armor, and other items indicative of a rip crew.

USBP agents arrested Rodriguez-Arvizu on November 18, 2019, for his role in the crimes. Co-conspirators Francisco Javier Caballero-Bustamante and Jose Carlos Lemus-Veliz were arrested by USBP and sentenced, prior to Rodriguez-Arvizu’s arrest, by Judge Zipps to 98 months and 144 months, respectively, for their roles in the rip crew. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:           CR-15-1390-003-TUC-JGZ-EJM
RELEASE NUMBER:    2023-039_Rodriguez-Arvizu

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Yvette Cantu
Public Affairs Officer
(602) 514-7500

Updated March 20, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 2023-039_Rodriguez-Arvizu