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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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.

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses
Updated December 6, 2017