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Press Release

Serial Violent Robber Found Guilty of Robbing Multiple Spas at Gunpoint; Duct-Taped Victims

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
At the time of the robberies, defendant was wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet with GPS monitoring due to multiple prior state convictions for armed robbery and assault and battery

BOSTON – A Burlington, Mass. man was convicted today by a federal jury in Boston for his role in the armed robberies of multiple businesses in which he and two others beat, dragged and duct-taped victims.

Alfeu Barbosa, 26, was convicted of two counts of robbery affecting commerce. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for July 17. Barbosa was arrested and charged in June 2022. His co-defendants, Li Wen Tang and Jonas Nunez, were later arrested and charged in August and September 2022. All three defendants were each subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury. Nunez pleaded guilty in January 2024 and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 18, 2024. Tang is pending trial and is presumed innocent. 

“Barbosa did not simply rob businesses, he terrorized employees by duct taping them, dragging them by their hair, assaulting them and holding them at gunpoint. Barbosa cruelly inflicted lifelong trauma on multiple victims, all for a few hundred dollars,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We hope that this verdict holding Mr. Barbosa accountable will bring some solace to the victims.”

“Alfeu Barbosa was a crime wave unto himself, storming into these spas, robbing everyone at gun point, and physically assaulting and duct taping them. What he did to the victims in this case was horrific,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Removing dangerous armed robbers like this from the street is a priority for FBI Boston’s Violent Crimes Task Force, and we thank the jury for making sure this prolific criminal won’t be able to terrorize anyone else for quite some time.”

Duct-Tape on Ground

On June 12, 2022 at approximately 8:51 p.m., Tang allegedly entered the Balance Reflexology Spa in Brookline pretending to be a customer seeking a massage. Because the victim was the only employee in the spa that night, she locked the door before taking Tang into the back room to begin the massage. It is alleged that Tang asked the victim if there was anyone else in the spa and that if there was, he would like to see them. Almost immediately after the massage had begun, Tang claimed that he no longer wanted a massage because his stomach was upset and demanded a refund. The victim employee stated she had to call her boss to approve the refund. While the victim employee was on the phone in the lobby, it is alleged that Tang unlocked the front door and two masked men – later identified as Barbosa and Nunez – entered the business carrying firearms. One of the men hit the victim employee in the face, knocking her to the floor and put a gun to her head. Barbosa and Nunez then pulled the victim by her hair into the back hallway where they instructed her to be quiet. There, the men proceeded to bind the victim’s wrists and ankles with duct tape and gag her. As they were doing this, Barbosa and Nunez repeatedly yelled at the victim asking, “Where is the money?” The men ransacked the spa for roughly three minutes before locating and stealing approximately $500 along with the victim employee’s cell phone and then exiting. Surveillance footage revealed that all three men had arrived in the same vehicle parked nearby, which they drove away in together following the robbery.

Later that evening, at approximately 10:19 p.m. on June 12, 2022, Barbosa, Nunez and allegedly Tang, committed a similar robbery of May’s Spa Massage in Stoneham. Specifically, they entered the business wearing masks and firearms and duct-taped several victims who were in the spa at the time. In addition to stealing approximately $600 in cash from the business and victims, Barbosa, Nunez and allegedly Tang, took three cell phones belonging to three of the female victims present during the robbery, as well as a victim’s license, gift cards and credit and debit cards before leaving in the same vehicle. 

On June 21, 2022, at around 9:40 p.m., Barbosa, Nunez and allegedly Tang robbed a third spa in the Chinatown section of Boston at gun point. Barbosa and Nunez took turns holding the firearm and guarding two female victims as the other ransacked the business. At one point, one of the men put the firearm to the head of one of the victims. In total, the men stole approximately $140 in cash, a Coach purse, two Louis Vuitton purses and both victims’ cell phones before fleeing the scene. 

At the time of the robberies, Barbosa was wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet with GPS monitoring due to a suspended sentence for multiple prior convictions out of Middlesex Superior Court of armed robbery and assault and battery for robbing the De Onzen Spa in Waltham in July 2021. During that robbery, Barbosa threatened employees and patrons at knifepoint, stole their phones and punched one victim in the face causing an orbital fracture. Barbosa was subsequently charged in the state for assault and battery and sentenced in April 2022 to two and a half years in prison. That sentence was later suspended for three years.  

Also at the time of the offenses, Barbosa was on pretrial release out of Suffolk Superior Court for charges of breaking and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony and larceny from a building. Barbosa has multiple prior state convictions including resisting arrest; breaking and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony; larceny over $250; and breaking and entering in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony.

The charges of robbery each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York; the Massachusetts State Police; as well as the Brookline, Stoneham, Boston, Wakefield and New York City Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luke A. Goldworm and Robert E. Richardson of the Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case. 
   
The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated March 22, 2024

Topic
Violent Crime