By Michelle Graff
Dallas—One member of a five-person gang that was targeting traveling jewelry salespeople in Texas a few years ago was sentenced in federal court last week.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey sentenced 35-year-old Robert Riveros to 22 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to robbery and firearms charges.

20201014 Robert Paul RiverosRobert Riveros (Photo courtesy of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance)
Riveros was arrested in Colombia, where he lived, back in July 2017, and extradited to the United States.

According to the superseding indictment in the case, filed in October 2016, Riveros and four other Colombians discussed and planned the robberies of three traveling jewelry salespeople.

The robberies took place in April and June of 2016 in Garland, Arlington and Euless, Texas.

In the Euless robbery, the salesman, 42-year-old Muhammed Shaikh, lost his life.

According to the indictment, Shaikh was in the convenience store of a gas station near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when Riveros and three of the other suspects—Johnnattan Ramirez, Pedro Louis Alvarez and Eslevy Vargas-Avila—smashed in his rental car’s back window with a gun, reached in and grabbed a case of jewelry.

Shaikh ran from the store and jumped into the window of Ramirez’s car in an attempt to retrieve the jewelry.

According to the indictment, Ramirez “drove his vehicle in a manner intended to dislodge [Shaikh],” striking other cars in the process, but ended up speeding away from the scene with the salesman half hanging out of the window.

The four robbers drove to an apartment complex in nearby Irving, Texas, where they beat and kicked Shaikh in order to keep the case of jewelry, which, the indictment states, “contributed to his death.”

Riveros pleaded guilty to: conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, two counts of interference with commerce by robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Two counts from the original indictment and two counts from the superseding indictment were dismissed as part of his plea deal.

Ramirez, Alvarez, and Vargas-Avila also faced robbery and weapons charges, as did the fifth suspect, Catherine Contreras-Beltran.

Ramirez, Vargas-Avila, and Contreras-Beltran were rounded up in Colombia between December 2016 and February 2017 and, like Riveros, extradited to the United States.

The FBI and the DFW International Airport Department of Public Safety arrested Alvarez in New York City in June 2016.

In September 2019, the first of the five suspects was sentenced, court records show. Contreras-Beltran got 13 1/2 years in prison.

Ramirez was sentenced to 25 years in prison in March, and Alvarez, who was sentenced in January, got 15 years. Alvarez’s sentence will run consecutively to any sentence imposed in a separate criminal case he is facing in Queens, New York, court records show.

Vargas-Avila is scheduled for sentencing next week, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said.

TAGS:   Crime
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