WASHINGTON – A US court has convicted a 39-year-old Columbian national of running an armed robbery crew, which targeted Indian-Americans in Georgia, New York, Michigan and Texas.
The federal grand jury in Detroit on Monday found Juan Olaya, who travelled across the country committing armed home invasions with his gang, guilty of all charges in a nine-count indictment.
Evidence at the trial established that the gang exclusively targeted families of Indian and Asian descent, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The sentencing is scheduled for July 23.
According to evidence presented at trial, Olaya ran the enterprise from 2011 through 2014.
Chaka Castro, a co-conspirator, generated lists of robbery targets in various states around the country, specifically families of Asian and Indian ancestry, and assigned crews to carry out the armed robberies.
Olaya was the road boss of one such crew, who recruited other members and assigned them roles.
Olaya and crew members travelled to certain locations, conducted surveillance and executed the robberies, federal prosecutors said.
Noting the crew utilised a particular modus operandi in each of the robberies, federal prosecutors said that members disguised their appearance with clothing and bandanas so that victims would have difficulty identifying them.
They openly carried and brandished firearms to gain control of the victims.
At least one crew member then restrained the victims using duct tape and threats of violence, as another ransacked the home in search of cash, jewellery and electronics to steal.
The crew organised their trips to involve multiple home invasion robberies over a series of days, it said.