Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Down on Violent Crime Ring in Eastern Seaboard
In a major operation led by the ATF, FBI, and United States Marshal Service, with significant cooperation from various local law enforcement agencies, a group of 16 alleged members of a violent crime ring has been indicted on charges ranging from armed carjackings to armed robberies, money laundering, and firearms offenses. The superseding indictment was unsealed today, revealing the extensive efforts of federal law enforcement to bring these individuals to justice. Eight defendants were arrested this morning, while the remaining defendants were already in custody.
The charges against the alleged members of the crime ring include conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce, known as Hobbs Act robbery, interference with interstate commerce by robbery, using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, conspiracy to commit carjacking, and conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions involving property derived from specified unlawful activity. This case was announced by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal and Cyber Division, Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, Marshal Peter Marketos of the United States Marshals Service, and Acting Chief Pamela Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department.
According to the indictment, the defendants conspired between January 7, 2022, and January 27, 2023, to commit robberies in various states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. The targets of these robberies were jewelry stores owned by Asian Americans. The defendants would dress in dark clothing, masks, and gloves, and armed with guns, they would use stolen vehicles as getaway cars. The robberies took place at several locations, including Yasini Jewelers in E. Falls Church, VA; Virani Jewelers in Iselin, NJ; Sonia Jewelers & Boutique in Springfield, VA; Paradise Jewelry Store in Paterson, NJ; Baral Jewelers & Gifts in Harrisburg, PA; Sara Emporium Jewelry & Boutique in Springfield, VA; Kishek Jewelers in Jacksonville, FL; Chintamanis Inc. in Franklin Park, NJ, and Princess Diamonds in Falls Church, VA.
The indictment also alleges that one of the defendants, William Hunter, conspired to commit carjackings between September 11, 2022, and October 22, 2022, along with others. Additionally, defendants Wright, Avery Fuller, William Hunter, and Franklin Hunter conspired to launder the proceeds from the stolen jewelry.
United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves emphasized the gravity of this indictment, stating, “This indictment alleges a conspiracy to engage in a violent armed robbery spree involving commercial establishments throughout the Eastern Seaboard. With an increasing number of robbery schemes that cross state lines, collaborative operations like this one are critical to holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our communities.”
Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai of the ATF’s Washington Field Division highlighted the need to address firearm-related violence and ensure the safety of communities. He stated, “We will continue collaborating with our law enforcement partners by holding those individuals who seek to harm innocent people accountable for their actions.”
Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal and Cyber Division praised the perseverance and cooperation of law enforcement agencies across state lines in connecting the defendants to the string of robberies. Sundberg stated, “Today’s indictment is a testament to the strength of our partnerships and the commitment we all share to eradicating violent crime.”
Special Agent in Charge James Dennehy of the FBI’s Newark Field Office expressed concern for the affected small businesses and emphasized the recklessness and disregard for public safety exhibited by the defendants. Dennehy warned other criminals that justice will be served, stating, “FBI Newark and our law enforcement partners will make sure if we can charge something federally, we will make that happen.”
Acting Chief Pamela Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia commended the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and vowed to hold criminals accountable. She urged the public to recognize that they will not tolerate crimes that jeopardize public safety and emphasized the dedication of law enforcement to apprehending offenders.
This significant operation led to the arrest of eight defendants this morning, while the others were already in custody. Multiple search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of numerous firearms and approximately $300,000 from a safe found during one of the searches.
The arrest of these alleged members of a violent crime ring marks a significant milestone in law enforcement’s efforts to maintain public safety and bring justice to victims. The collaboration between federal agencies and local law enforcement is a testament to their determination and commitment to upholding the law and protecting communities.