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Press Release

Bergen County, New Jersey, Man Pleads Guilty To Violent North Jersey Carjacking

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A Waldwick, New Jersey, man today admitted carjacking a taxi and striking the victim on the head with a beer bottle, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Arlyn Jowany Carrasco Cruz, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of carjacking.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2016, Cruz and at least five others forcibly took a 2008 Dodge Caravan from a taxicab driver. Cruz and the others forced the taxicab driver into the back of the vehicle and took over driving. As they drove toward Waldwick, Cruz struck the victim in the head with a beer bottle before being let out of the cab.

After dropping Cruz off, the others continued driving the cab to New York, and one individual caused further serious bodily injury to the victim by slicing his throat with a knife before leaving him on the side of the New York State Thruway near Woodbury, New York. The taxicab driver survived.

The carjacking charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 25 years in prison. Cruz’s sentencing is scheduled for April 11, 2018.

Four other men have pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the carjacking, subsequent kidnapping, and an earlier bar robbery in Hawthorne, New Jersey. Guillermo Carrillo-Iraheta, 20, and Juan Chiliseo-Vega, 21, both of Suffern, New York, were sentenced to 150 and 168 months in prison, respectively. Wilbur Jonathon Barahona, 22, or Ridgewood, New Jersey, and Jostin Reyes, 22, also of Walwick, New Jersey, await sentencing.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal, and the Ridgewood and Hawthorne Police Departments with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elaine K. Lou and Karen D. Stringer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Susan C. Cassell Esq., Ridgewood, New Jersey 

Updated January 3, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 18-002