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Press Release

Members of Upstate Robbery Crew Plead Guilty to Federal Robbery and Firearms Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Contact Person: Andrew Moorman (864) 282-2100

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced today that Juan Manuel Hernandez, age 39, and Arturo Mendez-Gomez, age 27, pled guilty to Conspiring to Interfere with Interstate Commerce by Robbery and two counts of Brandishing, Carrying, Using, and Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence.  The Government’s evidence indicated that beginning at least on December 7, 2013, and ending on February 21, 2014, Hernandez and Mendez-Gomez, both citizens of Mexico, worked together to rob Hispanic grocery stores operating in the Upstate of South Carolina and western North Carolina.  Typically, Mendez-Gomez would enter the store first and distract the clerk.  Hernandez would then enter the store, walk around the counter, and point a semi-automatic pistol at the clerk, demanding money.  After the clerk complied with the demand, Hernandez and Mendez-Gomez would tie up the clerk in the rear of the store and make their getaway.  The investigation culminated on February 20, 2014, when law enforcement spotted a getaway car the two men had used in some of the robberies.  On February 25, 2014, law enforcement arrested Mendez-Gomez while conducting surveillance on the getaway car.  Hernandez fled, but was later apprehended in Columbus, Ohio.  Pursuant to their guilty pleas, Hernandez and Mendez-Gomez face a minimum of 32 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, and the Henderson County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.  Andy Moorman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office is the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Updated February 12, 2015