A group of heavily armed robbers dubbed the “Chesapeake Bandits” is behind a string of armored car robberies in the Los Angeles area, and authorities recently apprehended one of the ring leaders, the FBI and local police announced Thursday.
Federal prosecutors have indicted two of the prime suspects involved in the five armed robberies, in which hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen, authorities said. Deneyvous Hobson, 36, and James Russell Davis, 34, are both charged with robbery and conspiracy. Hobson was taken into custody on February 21, while Davis remains a fugitive. At least five others believed to be part of the group also remain fugitives.
“The defendants in this case and the other co-conspirators are heavily armed and turned their guns on the victims,” who were security guards in any case, US Atty. Martin Estrada said at a press conference at the FBI’s LA headquarters in Westwood.
Estrada said in one robbery “a gun was fired” by a suspect who was said to be Hobson. Video from one of the robberies shows the masked bandits welding an AR-style shotgun with a short barrel, an optical sight and a large extended magazine.
The bandits forced guards to the ground at gunpoint, tied them up and took the money bags before fleeing. At least five other individuals are believed to be part of the Chesapeake Bandits, a name given to the group because investigators say they carefully planned the robberies at a home on Chesapeake Avenue in LA’s West Adams neighborhood.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said detectives investigating the armored car robberies found links between the crimes committed last year at several banks in Hawthorne, Inglewood and Los Angeles.
Moore said the LAPD’s robbery homicide unit worked with detectives from other agencies to piece together the identities of some of those behind the daylight robberies.
“So far no guard or employee has been injured, but if you look at the tactics used here, someone has compared them to the movies,” he said.
Donald Alway, FBI assistant director in charge of the LA office, said the bandits would pre-survey the sites, using multiple vehicles and personnel. The group had drivers who would remain in their vehicles during the robberies, he said.
Three weeks before the first robbery at a credit union bank in Hawthorne, two suspects, believed to be Hobson and Davis, were seen driving a white Chevrolet Tahoe “for about an hour while a would-be victim, JG – a Sectran Security, Inc. motorist – parked his armored car and collected money “from ATMs, according to the indictment.
A bank employee noticed the men and suspicious activity and called the police. A police officer questioned the two men, and they provided their identification, and both had the same Chesapeake Avenue address, according to the affidavit filed with the complaint.
“Three weeks later, to this day — and almost exactly the same minute … JG was robbed while withdrawing money from the same ATMs,” Elizabeth Cardenas, an FBI special agent, said in the affidavit.
The suspects were three men who used what appeared to be an AR-15 and a handgun during the robbery, authorities said. They stole the guard’s gun and about $100,000.
The crew allegedly committed a similar robbery about half a mile away in Inglewood on June 9 and stole nearly $93,000, authorities said. A vehicle matching Davis’ Tahoe was “seen with a getaway car within 30 minutes of the robbery of a nearby Ring camera.”
According to court documents, Hobson has prior convictions for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, while Davis has a conviction for receiving stolen property and possession of burglary tools.
At least five other individuals are believed to be part of the Chesapeake Bandits but have yet to be identified. Surveillance photos of the unknown subjects can be found here: WantedUnknown topics
Anyone who may recognize a suspect’s clothing or has heard anyone talk about his involvement is urged to call the FBI with a tip. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 in exchange for information leading to an arrest in this case.