Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Seven suspects have been indicted in connection with a series of bank robberies, authorities said yesterday. Police also identified an eighth person wanted in connection with the cases, who is being held out-of-state on unrelated charges.

“These heavily armed defendants were a menace to the D.C. metropolitan area,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein. According to court documents, the men purchased bandanas, hoods, masks and body armor used in four bank robberies in the District and two in Prince George’s County. The heists netted $361,000 since late January.

“They collected and stashed away an arsenal of weapons to use in the robberies, including seven different assault weapons,” said Mr. Wainstein, noting the stash included AK-47s and machine pistols, which are essentially small submachine guns.

The indictments, returned Tuesday, were issued against five suspects already in custody. Two others were arrested in raids conducted by a joint local and federal task force yesterday.

Charged with armed bank robbery, conspiracy and weapons violations are: Miguel Morrow, 26; Lionel Stoddard, 21; Omar Holmes, 26; Guidel Olivares, 45; and Carlos Aguiar, 24, all of the District. Bryan Burwell, 27, of Lanham, Md., and Aaron Perkins, 27, of Ft. Washington, Md., face the same charges. Only Holmes remains free, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Police have also issued a warrant for Omar Anderson, 23, who has been identified as a suspect. He is being held on unrelated charges.

Mr. Wainstein also announced that Nourredine Chtaini, 29, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and weapons charges in the case. Court records indicate Chtaini participated in all six robberies.

The men reportedly planned and executed the robberies after conducting surveillance. The masked suspects entered the banks, subdued staff and customers with a show of firepower, and exited with the cash.

FBI Special Agent Thomas Kinnally characterized the suspects as “a particularly vicious band of thieves whose intent was to steal and terrorize innocent citizens.”

The six robberies occurred between Jan. 22 and June 29. Stolen getaway cars were often abandoned and burned, and additional pre-positioned stolen vehicles were used to flee to an apartment where the proceeds were divided. Very little of the money has been recovered, said officials.

The final robbery was caught on video by a local news cameraman who was nearby to tape an unrelated story.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison for each of the robberies.

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