Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Jose Guillermo Molina-Arevalo, age 27, of Kensington, Maryland, to 20 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for federal charges in Maryland and the Eastern District of Virginia related to a series of armed commercial robberies. Judge Grimm also ordered Molina-Arevalo to pay restitution in the amount of $90,927.45. In Maryland, Molina-Arevalo is convicted of conspiracy to commit an armed commercial robbery and for committing armed commercial robbery. In the Eastern District of Virginia, Molina-Arevalo is convicted of two counts of committing commercial robberies and two counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica D. Aber; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; Chief Kevin Davis of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department; Chief Maggie A. DeBoard of the Herndon, Virginia Police Department; Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy; and Loudoun County, Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj.
According to Molina-Arevalo’s plea agreement in the Eastern District of Virginia, he is a member of the Pinos Locos Salvatruchos (PLS) clique of La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal street gang. Between June 6, 2017 and November 3, 2017, Molina-Arevalo and other PLS members and associates participated in a number of robberies in the Eastern District of Virginia and in Maryland. Molina-Arevalo admitted that he participated in the June 6th robbery and served as a look-out for all the of the other robberies.
On June 6, 2017, Molina-Arevalo and other PLS members and associates traveled from Maryland to Herndon, Virginia. Wearing masks and displaying firearms, Molina-Arevalo and the other robbers entered a store that also serves as a MoneyGram location in the 1100 block of Elden Street. The robbers demanded money and fled the store with a large amount of cash and security recording equipment worth about $250.
As detailed in the plea agreement, on August 18, 2017, Molina-Arevalo and other PLS members and associates robbed the same store, again wearing masks and displaying firearms. The robbers stole approximately $19,500 and the security equipment. The co-conspirators then entered a restaurant across from the store, still wearing masks and displaying firearms. They ordered the restaurant patrons and staff to the ground and kept them there for several minutes before fleeing through the restaurant’s rear exit. Molina-Arevalo remained outside in a vehicle and acted as a look-out while his co-conspirators were inside both establishments.
On September 15, 2017, Molina-Arevalo and other PLS members and associates traveled to a convenience store in Sterling, Virginia, where four of the co-conspirators entered the store brandishing firearms. Three of the co-conspirators wore masks. They stole between $3,00 and $5,000, as well as electronic devices belonging to the employees, patrons, and a deliveryman. Again, Molina-Arevalo remained outside in a vehicle and acted as a look-out while his co-conspirators were in the convenience store.
According to the Maryland plea agreement, in November 2017, Molina-Arevalo conspired with others to commit commercial robberies in Silver Spring, Maryland. Specifically, Molina-Arevalo conducted surveillance on the robbery targets before the robberies, helped to plan the robberies, knowing that at least one of his co-conspirators would be armed with a gun during the robberies, and acted as a look-out during the robberies.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Molina-Arevalo’s co-conspirators, wearing masks and armed with at least one firearm, entered a building in Silver Spring that contained Business 1 and Business 2. The co-conspirators demanded money from the employees of Business 1. One of the co-conspirators jumped over the counter of Business 1 and took more than $200 belonging to Business 1. The co-conspirators then went to Business 2, a separate business in the same building, and demanded money, but the employees refused to comply with their demands. The co-conspirators then attempted to enter the area where the cash was kept, but they were unsuccessful. The conspirators then fled with the funds from Business 1 to a waiting getaway vehicle driven by another co-conspirator.
United States Attorneys Erek L. Barron and Jessica D. Aber praised the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Montgomery County Police Department, the Fairfax and Herndon, Virginia Police Departments; the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Loudoun County Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Barron and Ms. Aber thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and John C. Blanchard, who prosecuted the Maryland and Eastern District of Virginia cases, respectively.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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