Guilty Pleas Entered in Connection With String of Hobbs Act Robberies in Southeastern New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Rance Williams, 23, and Maurice Williams, 35, both of Carlsbad, N.M., entered guilty pleas this afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces to violating the Hobbs Act by robbing businesses engaged in interstate commerce. The guilty pleas were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta Hicks, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, Chief Daniel Fierro of the Carlsbad Police Department, Chief Don Raley of the Artesia Police Department, and Chief Chris McCall of the Hobbs Police Department.
Rance Williams, Maurice Williams and four other Carlsbad residents, Bennie Juarez, 27, Logan Magby, 19, Mario Muro, 23, and Tyler Williams, 19, were charged with violations of the Hobbs Act in a criminal complaint filed on May 29, 2013. The criminal complaint charged the six men, acting in groups, with robbing the following five commercial businesses in southeastern New Mexico between Nov. 2012 and Jan. 2013:
- The Family Dollar located at 403 W. Quay Street in Artesia, N.M., by Bennie Juarez and Maurice Williams on Nov. 15, 2012.
- The Shop-N-Go located at 22212 W. Lea Street in Carlsbad by Bennie Juarez and Rance Williams on Nov. 28, 2012.
- The Family Dollar located at 901 W. Mermod Street in Carlsbad by Bennie Juarez and Maurice Williams on Dec. 2, 2012.
- The Dollar General located at 730 N. Dal Paso in Hobbs, N.M., by Bennie Juarez, Rance Williams and Tyler Williams on Dec. 9, 2012.
- The Domino’s Pizza located at 302 S. 1st Street in Artesia by Bennie Juarez, Mario Muro, Logan Magby and Tyler Williams on Jan. 6, 2013.
The criminal complaint alleged that each of the robberies was committed by perpetrators who wore masks or covered their faces with bandanas and brandished firearms at the store employees.
During today’s proceedings, Rance Williams entered a guilty plea to a two-count felony information charging him with conspiracy to rob the Shop-N-Go in Carlsbad on Nov. 28, 2012, and conspiracy to rob the Dollar General in Carlsbad on Dec. 2, 2012, under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Maurice Williams entered a guilty plea to a two-count felony information charging him with conspiracy to rob the Family Dollar in Artesia on Nov. 15, 2012, and conspiracy to rob the Family Dollar in Carlsbad on Dec. 2, 2012, without the benefit of a plea agreement. At sentencing, Rance Williams and Maurice Williams each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction. The two men were remanded into custody after entering their guilty plea and will be detained pending their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
Two other men, Juarez and Magby, previously entered guilty pleas under plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Juarez entered a guilty plea on Aug. 20, 2013, to a felony information charging him with five counts of conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act by robbing each of the five businesses numerated above. Juarez was remanded into custody after entering his guilty plea. Magby entered a guilty plea on Sept. 3, 2013, to a one-count felony information charging him with conspiracy to rob the Domino’s Pizza in Artesia on Jan. 6, 2013. Juarez and Magby each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of conviction; their sentencing hearings have yet to be scheduled.
Muro and Tyler Williams have entered not guilty pleas. The charges against them are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court of law. Muro is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on Sept. 13, 2013, and Tyler Williams is pending trial, which has not yet been scheduled.
These cases were brought as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this anti-violence initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.
These cases were investigated by the Roswell office of the FBI, Carlsbad Police Department, Artesia Police Department and Hobbs Police Department, with assistance from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luis A. Martinez and Edwin Garreth Winstead III of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.