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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Friday, September 27, 2013

Attempted Robbery Of Traveling Jewelry Salesman Results In Significant Prison Time

HOUSTON – A Colombian national claiming the name Santos Diaz-Soto, 27, been ordered to federal prison for 21 years for his involvement in the attempted robbery of a jewelry salesman and his guard, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Diaz-Soto, who resided in Houston and Atlanta, Ga., entered a plea of guilty April 5, 2013, to conspiracy, interference of commerce by robbery and brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon handed him a total sentence of 252 months in federal prison - 168 months for the conspiracy and robbery charges and a consecutive 84 months for the use of the firearm. At the hearing today, additional testimony was presented including the fact that he was in fact a Colombian national with several aliases such as Jason Lerma-Mejia, Juan Carlos-Mejia, Christian Jolian Morales, Luis Angel and many more. In handing down the sentence, Judge Harmon noted this was a sophisticated robbery of a traveling jeweler, that he was in fact a leader/organizer and that his actions mimicked another robbery he had previously committed. The court also noted that he had obstructed justice by claiming he was shot by others when, in fact, he was shot by the salesman’s guard, by feeling to Mexico after initial apprehension as well as falsely identifying himself as a Puerto-Rican national known as Santos Diaz-Soto.

Further testimony today revealed that his name had come up on similar investigations around the country. Diaz-Soto was further ordered to pay in restitution and will serve three years of supervised release.

The victimized guard also provided testimony today as to the impact the robbery has had on his life, the pain and discomfort he had and is still experiencing, including daily reminders about the attack, as well as the terror his wife felt when she heard about the incident.

According to court records, in the fall of 2009, a jewelry salesman traveled from Louisiana to Houston to meet with local jewelers. On Sept. 11, 2009, he and his guard - an off-duty Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) officer - were approached in their car by two Hispanic males – Diaz-Soto and Gabriel Ocampo-Mayorquin, 28, of Colombia. Diaz-Soto had a firearm and Ocampo-Mayorquin had a glass punch which was used to break a window. The guard fired several shots and wounded both men. During the robbery, Hugo Ortiz, 29, Juan Carlos Valencia, 30, and Osorio Pemberthy, 26, all also of Colombia, acted as lookouts and get-away drivers.

Immediately after the robbery, witnesses observed three vehicles race into the back parking lot of an apartment complex located across the street from the robbery scene. Several men were seen entering and exiting the vehicles and removing temporary license plates from at least one vehicle. Through further investigation, including a visit to an area hospital, task force officers ultimately identified all five charged in the case.

Ortiz, Valencia and Pemberthy all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison. 

Ocampo-Mayorquin is a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone having information regarding his whereabouts is urged to contact the Houston office of the FBI at (713) 693-5000 or their local FBI office.

Diaz-Soto will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

This matter was investigated by members of the FBI’s Houston Violent Crimes Task Force which includes officers of the Houston Police Department. The Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement also provided invaluable assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kebharu H. Smith, Suzanne Elmilady and Joe Magliolo.

Updated April 30, 2015