FRESNO, Calif. — Soledad residents Enrique Lopez, 28, and Victor Bravo, 25, were each sentenced today to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, on Nov. 16, 2018, a deputy sheriff noticed a Nissan Altima parked in a parking lot at an apartment complex in Modesto that had been reported stolen from Salinas. Officers set up surveillance on the stolen Nissan and watched four cars carrying the five co-conspirators leave the apartment complex.
The cars traveled close to each other to a shopping area in Modesto that contained a Chase Bank. One co-conspirator drove back and forth past the Chase Bank, talking to the other conspirators on the phone.
The stolen Nissan, driven by Bravo, parked in a loading area behind the shopping center next to a car driven by Lopez. Lopez got out of his car and started loading items into the stolen Nissan. The stolen Nissan then left the loading area, drove through an alley, and parked in a parking lot near Chase Bank. Officers stopped the car and detained all four occupants. Inside the stolen Nissan, officers found two assault rifle-style firearms, a handgun, a revolver, masks, gloves, and a large duffel bag.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, the Modesto Police Department, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, and Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Pearson is prosecuting the case.
Three other defendants have pleaded guilty are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd. The defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. To learn more about Project Safe Neighborhoods, go to www.justice.gov/psn.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see www.justice.gov/projectguardian.