Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Armored truck robber uses Craigslist to make getaway Staff

MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River.

The robbery happened about 11 a.m. on an armored truck guard at a Bank of America branch.

"He was wearing a dust mask, a particle mask. At first I thought it might be a surgical mask. I still didn't think anything was wrong, just unusual. Then I noticed he had a pump sprayer," said Mitch Ruth, who had looked out his office window and noticed the man walking into the bank.

The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.

But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," said Mike, who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

"Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask… and, if possible, a blue shirt," he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

From there, the cook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

"We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence," said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.

Investigators believe accomplices could have picked the robber up at a nearby boat launch or park.

Police say they now have the Craigslist information and they are trying to piece it all together to find the suspect.

The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, wearing a dark blue shirt, jean shorts and a mask.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Drug smuggling suspect pleads guilty to lesser charges


TACOMA -- One of three brothers accused of running a southwest Washington methamphetamine ring has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Ulises "Mono" Barragan-Mendoza of Lacey pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and to being an alien in possession of a firearm. Charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and to engage in money laundering were dropped.

Investigators believe Barragan and his two brothers from Arteaga, Mexico, led a group that brought large amounts of meth into the country from Mexico.

In raids in April from the Olympic Peninsula to the Longview-Kelso area, 22 people were arrested and authorities seized cars, $100,000 in cash, 41 guns and 20 pounds of meth.

One brother of Barragan also was arrested. The other is believed to be in Mexico.