April 1, 2015

Six Individuals Charged in String of Armed Home Invasion Robberies That Targeted Victims of Indian and Asian Ancestry

WASHINGTON—Six individuals were charged today in connection with their involvement in an armed robbery crew that conducted home invasion robberies in Michigan and Texas, principally targeting victims of Indian and Asian ancestry.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Katherine J. Greer of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation’s (ICE-HSI) Dallas Field Office, Chief John Seto of the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Police Department, Sheriff Jerry L. Clayton of the Washentaw County, Michigan, Sheriff’s Department and Director Todd L. Mutchler of Canton, Michigan, Public Safety made the announcement.

“The armed robberies allegedly committed by this organized criminal group were horrific home invasions that spread fear through Asian and Indian communities across multiple states,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “This indictment is the first step in holding responsible those accused of carrying out armed robberies that were both life threatening and ethnically targeted.”

“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants used online research to target their victims from a distance, traveled to their homes, and then carried out the robberies while the victims were at home,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade. “The defendants either broke in or used a female decoy to knock, luring victims to open the door. Once the door was open, the robbers would charge inside with guns and threats of violence, round up all the adults and children into one room, and bind them with duct tape before ransacking the house and stealing valuables. We are grateful for the outstanding work of federal, state and local law enforcement in various jurisdictions to connect the dots and put this case together.”

“This multistate investigation serves as an example of the successful collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement to bring justice to bear upon those who have wreaked havoc upon our neighborhoods and victimized families in their own homes,” said Special Agent in Charge Abbate. “Combating violent crime is among the highest of priorities for the FBI. There is nothing more important than protecting our communities and keeping law abiding citizens safe in their own homes. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will maintain its resolve and continue the fight against violent criminal offenders.”

Chaka LeChar Castro, 40, Juan Olaya, 35, and Octavius Scott, 22, all of Houston, and Jakeyra Augustus, 21, of La Marque, Texas, are each charged with engaging in a RICO conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and four counts of use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Rodney Granger, 19, and Johnisha Williams, 19, both of Houston, are each charged with engaging in a RICO conspiracy. All of the defendants are currently in custody.

According to the indictment, the defendants committed four armed home invasion robberies in the greater Ann Arbor area over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, as well as additional armed robberies in the greater Dallas area in early December 2014. The crews allegedly utilized a similar modus operandi in each of the robberies. According to the indictment, they typically used female decoys to knock on the victims’ doors and gain entry, or they merely forced entry themselves. Once inside, members of the robbery crew—disguised with bandanas and masks—allegedly brandished firearms to gain control of their victims, including children, and then forced them at gunpoint into a single room of the home. Some members of the crew were allegedly assigned to bind the victims with duct tape, or otherwise maintain control over them. At the same time, other members of the crew allegedly ransacked the homes in search of cash, jewelry and electronics.

According to allegations in the indictment, Castro was the leader of the enterprise. In that capacity, she allegedly coordinated with Olaya to generate lists of robbery targets by conducting research on the Internet, among other methods, to identify families of Asian and Indian ancestry. Castro then assigned crews to carry out the armed robberies of these targeted families. Olaya allegedly led the robberies themselves, and Scott, Augustus, Granger and Williams were allegedly members of the robbery crew.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement in Michigan and Texas, including the FBI, ICE-HSI, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Canton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kelly Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Douglas C. Salzenstein of the Eastern District of Michigan.