Individual Charged For Several Robberies, Including One Resulting In The Death Of Two Innocent Bystanders
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a five-count indictment against Benjamin Melendez-Rivera charging him with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and possession and brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
According to the indictment, on March 20, 2017, Melendez-Rivera, along with other co-conspirators, traveled to a Banco Popular branch in Morovis, Puerto Rico to commit a robbery. On that same date, one of the co-conspirators brandished a firearm at an armed courier employed by Econo Supermarket, and took approximately $3,000 in U.S. currency from him.
The indictment further alleges that on March 23, 2017, Melendez-Rivera traveled to a Banco Popular branch in Añasco, Puerto Rico to conduct surveillance in preparation for a robbery. On March 30, 2017, Melendez-Rivera also traveled to the Banco Popular branch in Añasco, Puerto Rico to commit a robbery. Once near the vicinity of the Banco Popular branch, Melendez-Rivera took a photograph of the location with his cellular phone. During the commission of the robbery in Añasco, two co-conspirators brandished firearms at a Ranger American armed courier. The co-conspirators discharged their firearms, killing two innocent bystanders and wounding the Ranger American armed courier, from whom they stole approximately $16,900 in U.S. currency.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Alum is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.