FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment Thursday against Javier Beltran, 34, of Strathmore, and Ulises Medina, 24, of Earlimart, charging them with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Beltran and Medina were members of a conspiracy that committed a series of armed robberies of gas stations, convenience stores, and liquor stores from May 19, 2016, until July 22, 2017.
Beltran, Medina, and their co-conspirators used a similar modus operandi for each robbery. First, Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators would steal a Chevrolet or GMC sports utility vehicle or truck manufactured between 2000 and 2006. Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators would push a hole in the lock on the door of the vehicle, open the steering shaft, and start the vehicle without a key. Next, Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators would drive to a gas station, convenience store, or liquor store in the stolen vehicle. They would park the vehicle outside, and Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators, wearing masks and gloves, would enter the store carrying guns. They would order the store clerk to give them money, then they would steal money from the cash register or safe in the store. Finally, Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators would flee in the stolen vehicle, drive it a short distance, and switch to another getaway vehicle, often leaving the stolen vehicle running.
The indictment alleges that Beltran, Medina, and their conspirators committed at least seven armed robberies in Tulare and Kern Counties between May 2016 and January 2017. The next month, Beltran, Medina, and other conspirators traveled to Nebraska, where they engaged in similar conduct. Beltran, Medina, and their conspirators then returned to California, where they committed three more armed robberies.
According to the indictment, in furtherance of the conspiracy, Beltran, Medina and other conspirators committed robberies that included:
May 19, 2016, Applegate’s Market, Porterville
June 29, 2016, Applegate’s Market, Porterville
October 2, 2016, EZ Shop-N-Go, Strathmore
November 4, 2016, EZ Shop-N-Go, Strathmore
December 20, 2016, SA Market, Earlimart
January 18, 2017, Joe’s Westside, Porterville
February 22, 2017, Robbery of Tienda Mexicana Guerrero, Fremont, Nebraska
March 13, 2017, Amigo’s Market, Earlimart
May 12, 2017, Sunshine Market, Earlimart
July 22, 2017, Woodville Liquor, Porterville
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Porterville Police Department, Lindsay Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Fremont (Nebraska) Police Department, and Dodge County (Nebraska) Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross Pearson and Kathleen Servatius are prosecuting the case.
If convicted of the conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery, the defendants face a mandatory statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Beltran was charged with two counts and Medina was charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Beltran was charged with two counts and Medina was charged with one count of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory statutory penalty of at least seven consecutive years up to a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.