FBI Presses Charges Against Jose Baez Martinez and Benny I. Espada Santini for Actual or Attempted Robbery Affecting Interstate or Foreign Commerce and Weapons Violation
Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Juan Division announced the arrest of Jose Baez Martinez and Benny I. Espada Santini. On November 21, 2014, Jose Baez Martinez and Benny I. Espada Santini were charged with actual or attempted robbery affecting interstate of foreign commerce and weapons violation.
On November 19, 2014, at approximately 3:30 a.m., in the municipality of Coamo, a male adult, (hereafter the victim) was at his residence, where he operates a commercial business selling lottery tickets. Shortly thereafter, three subjects wearing masks banged the front door and announced themselves as Police of Puerto Rico. The victim, who was suspicious, inquired about the location of the subjects’ police vehicles. After the victim asked about the vehicles, the three men attempted to break down the victim’s front door.
One of the subjects, who had a pry tool, began to force the door open. The victim and his wife resisted the attempted entry by holding onto the inside lock and pushing the door closed, at which time one of the subjects withdrew a firearm and shot several times into the front door striking he victim.
The victim’s wife, fearing for her life, fled the residence and sought refuge. The three subjects entered the residence and ransacked the home taking approximately $4,000 in U.S. currency. The subjects also stole a vehicle belonging to the victim. A neighbor of the victim, who heard the disturbance and gunfire, called the police to alert them of the emergency.
Upon arrival of the initial responding police officers, a preliminary field interview was conducted. A neighbor informed the officers that they had observed a white Toyota Corolla, as well as the stolen vehicle, flee the scene. Personnel of Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) broadcasted via radio to other police marked units the description of the two vehicles to be on the lookout. PRPD agents spotted the vehicles fleeing the municipality of Coamo towards Aibonito near route 153.
While in pursuit of the vehicles, the subjects driving the stolen vehicle engaged in a gunfire with PRPD agents. PRPD agents lost sight of the stolen vehicle as it turned towards the municipality of Barranquitas where the subjects abandoned the vehicle and fled into the mountains. The white Toyota corolla had continued towards the municipality of Aibonito on route 153, at which time they were apprehended at a nearby gas station. The subject taken into custody by PRPD agents were later identified as Jose Baez Martinez and Benny I. Espada Santini.
If convicted, the defendants face up to a maximum of 27 years in prison. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Nicholas Cannon and is being investigated by the FBI.
The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.