Three Hialeah residents were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robberies, after robbing two Hialeah jewelry stores and attempting to rob a third store.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Peter Forcelli, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, and Sergio Velasquez, Chief, Hialeah Police Department (HPD), made the announcement.
Anibal Mustelier, 67, Jose Pineda Castro, 28, and Yamile Diaz Bernal, 29, all of Hialeah, were convicted after a seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge Frederico A. Moreno of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robberies. Mustelier and Pineda Castro were also convicted of two counts of Hobbs Act Robbery, one count of attempted Hobbs Act Robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. Mustelier, a convicted felon and formerly one of FBI’s most wanted individuals, with prior pending federal indictments from 1996, was also convicted of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mustelier, Pineda Castro, and Diaz Bernal face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robberies. Mustelier and Pineda Castro face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the two robberies and the one attempted robbery. Mustelier and Pineda Castro also face consecutive statutory mandatory minimum sentences of 7 and 25 years’ imprisonment, as to the two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. Mustelier faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge. All three defendants are currently scheduled to be sentenced on July 19, 2017.
According to the court record, including evidence presented at trial, between May 30, 2015 and August 8, 2016, Mustelier, Pineda Castro and his wife Diaz Bernal conspired to and robbed two jewelry stores in Hialeah, Florida. A third robbery attempt failed when Pineda Castro accidently cut the electricity to the shopping center.
The defendants would monitor the jewelry stores for months, including surveilling the store security features, in order to plan the robberies. Once they were ready to carry out the robbery, they would break into the adjacent business the night before the planned robbery. They would then carve out a hole from the adjacent business wall and prepare to enter the jewelry store once the employees arrived the following morning. At that time, they would bust through the drywall wearing ski masks and wielding guns. They would handcuff the employees and place all of the jewelry in large duffle bags. Just before they left the store with the jewelry, they would take the video recordings and exit through the same adjacent business wall. A confidential informant broke the case by recording Pineda Castro and Diaz Bernal discussing their participation in the prior jewelry store robberies. In these conversations, they implicated Mustelier as Pineda Castro’s mentor in committing robberies.
Law enforcement was able to independently corroborate Pineda Castro and Diaz Bernal’s admissions. In addition, unbeknownst to Pineda Castro, he also led law enforcement to the doorsteps of his mentor, Mustelier. There, law enforcement found, among other things, ski masks, guns, handcuffs and the jewelry belonging to two jewelry stores that had been robbed as part of this ongoing conspiracy.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of ATF and HPD. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rilwan Adeduntan and Miesha Shonta Darrough.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.