Sixteen members of a major crime ring have been arrested for a year-long series of violent armed robberies targeting Indian and other Asian jewelry stores across four East Coast U.S. states. Federal law enforcement arrested eight suspects recently, while the remaining eight were apprehended earlier, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Columbia.
According to the indictment, between January 7, 2022, and January 27, 2023, the defendants conspired in the District of Columbia to commit robberies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida, focusing on jewelry stores owned by Asian Americans. Among the targeted businesses, nine were identified as “South Asian” jewelry shops, with at least four owned by individuals of Indian origin.
The gang disguised themselves in dark clothing, masks, and gloves, armed with firearms, and used stolen vehicles for their robberies, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry from hardworking families.
Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg emphasized that the defendants targeted small businesses along the East Coast, and the FBI worked diligently with partners across state lines for 20 months to connect the suspects to these crimes. FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge James Dennehy noted that the suspects engaged in take-over-style armed robberies intended to terrify and overwhelm store owners and employees, many of whom operated family-owned businesses.
US Attorney Graves stressed the importance of collaborative operations to combat robbery schemes that cross state lines, particularly those threatening community safety.
Multiple firearms and approximately USD 300,000 were seized during the execution of search warrants. The arrested individuals face 19 charges, including conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce (Hobbs Act robbery), with potential sentences of up to 20 years in prison for Hobbs Act robbery and mandatory minimum sentences of seven years for firearm use, with a maximum possible sentence of life. Sentencing will be determined by a federal judge, considering sentencing guidelines and other factors.