Another indicted in connection to armed robbery of AR-rifle
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – Three men have now been charged in connection of a hotel robbery of an AR-variant rifle, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment adding Nathan Garza aka Goofy, 27, McAllen, to the robbery charge as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is in custody on related charges and expected to make his initial appearance on the federal indictment before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
Oscar Joel Frias aka OJ, 20, Edinburg, was previously indicted for the robbery and possession of a stolen firearm. Also implicated in connection to the crime was Jahiro Sarmiento Martinez, 29, Edinburg, and charged for illegally possession a firearm as a felon. Frias and Garza are also charged with brandishing firearms during a crime of violence.
On Oct. 13, 2022, Frias and Garza allegedly stole a DPMS Panther Arms AR-Variant rifle at gunpoint from a victim at a motel in Edinburg. The charges allege Frias used a 9mm pistol to commit the robbery. While conducting surveillance the following day, law enforcement observed Martinez loading the stolen AR into a vehicle, according to the allegations. Upon their arrests, law enforcement allegedly discovered multiple firearms within the vehicle.
As convicted felons, Martinez and Garza are prohibited per federal law of possessing firearms or ammunition.
If convicted, Frias and Garza face up to 20 years for the robbery, while Garza and Martinez could receive up to 15 years for the firearms charge. Upon conviction of brandishing a firearm, Frias and Garza would receive a mandatory seven-year-sentence which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. Each conviction also carries a possible fine of up to $250,000.
All three men remain in custody pending further proceedings.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation with the assistance of police departments in Edinburg and Palmview, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Devin V. Walker and Lee A. Fry are prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including the gun violence that is often at its core. Integral to that effort was the reinvigoration of PSN, a two-decade old, evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime. The updated PSN approach, outlined in the department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Updated March 21, 2023