Final Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Violent Uber and Lyft Carjacking Conspiracy, Assaulting a Federal Officer
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to 121 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,100 in restitution to the victims of three violent carjackings committed within a 24-hour period in March 2023, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
“This individual put several lives at risk by going on an armed carjacking spree and evading law enforcement by driving 120 miles per hour through a residential neighborhood,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “This case offers a snapshot of a disturbing trend of violent and reckless behavior. Wilson-Branch’s spree is one of the reasons our office has focused our resources on prosecuting violent carjacking cases.”
“Wilson-Branch's cowardly and reprehensible actions, aimed at terrorizing innocent victims for personal gain, have no place in a just society,” said Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston Sr. of FBI Minneapolis. “The FBI will not tolerate criminals depriving our citizens of safety within their own communities. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to target, identify and bring to justice violent offenders.”
According to court documents, on March 16, 2023, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Javon Thomas Wilson-Branch, 20, along with another individual, approached two people in Minneapolis who had just parked and exited a Mercedes Benz SUV to unload groceries. Wilson-Branch pointed a Springfield Armory assault rifle at the victims and demanded they hand over everything they had. At gunpoint, the victims provided Wilson-Branch with the keys to the vehicle and other items. Wilson-Branch got into the carjacked SUV and drove away.
Approximately eight hours later, at around 4:00 a.m., Wilson-Branch and another individual carjacked a Toyota Highlander at gunpoint in Minneapolis. Wilson-Branch and others pulled the carjacked SUV up next to the Highlander, and demanded the victim’s car keys at gunpoint. An AirTag inside the carjacked vehicle tracked the vehicle to Saint Paul, where it was left and abandoned at approximately 4:30 a.m., and Saint Paul police later recovered the carjacked vehicle.
About thirty-minutes later, at approximately 5:00 a.m., Wilson-Branch and another individual drove the carjacked SUV to Saint Paul and parked behind an Audi A6. When the owner approached the Audi A6, Wilson-Branch and the other individual exited the carjacked SUV armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and the Springfield Armory rifle. Both men pointed the firearms at the victim and forced him to give up his keys, wallet, and phone. The victim was also forced at gunpoint to unlock his cell phone, which was later used to make unauthorized money transfers from the victim’s bank account to Wilson-Branch and others. Wilson-Branch drove away in the carjacked Audi and the other individual drove away in the carjacked Mercedes Benz SUV. Officers with the St. Paul Police Department spotted the two carjacked vehicles about 30 minutes later in the area of Maryland Avenue and Western Avenue. When officers attempted a traffic stop, both vehicles fled police at high rates of speed through residential areas and onto the highway and evaded the pursuit.
Officers with the Woodbury Police Department later located the carjacked Audi A6 in a mall parking lot and apprehended Wilson-Branch in another building after a short foot chase. Two of the firearms used in the carjackings, each fully loaded with high-capacity magazines, and a recently stolen box of ammunition, were located inside the Audi A6, along with the keys to the previously carjacked Toyota Highlander.
Wilson-Branch pleaded guilty on August 4, 2023, to two counts of aiding and abetting carjacking, and admitted to aiding and abetting a third carjacking. He was sentenced today in U.S. District Court by Judge David S. Doty.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Saint Paul Police Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the Woodbury Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bejar prosecuted the case.