Three Los Angeles County residents are facing decades in prison after the U.S. Department of Justice charged them in connection with 10 pharmacy robberies this summer.
Makai Yusef Sanders and Kenyatta Kamar Jones of Hawthorne and Diavion Deshawna Mouton of Carson, all 22 years old, were charged earlier this month with Hobbs Act robbery (indicating it affected interstate or foreign commerce) and using a firearm during a violent crime, the DOJ said in a news release.
Federal authorities allege the trio targeted Rite Aid and Walgreens stores between Aug. 9 and Sept. 19, striking in Long Beach, Bellflower, South Los Angeles, Pasadena, Whittier, Lakewood, Monterey Park, Burbank and Glendale.
“Mouton allegedly served as the driver while Sanders and Jones allegedly robbed the stores,” the release said.
The robberies typically occurred about an hour before closing, and the robbers used guns while stealing cellphones and money from the stores’ offices, authorities said, adding that in some cases, they “assault[ed] and injur[ed] their victims.”
The DOJ highlighted the Sept. 19 robbery of a Walgreens in Glendale in particular.
That day, “two armed men believed to be Sanders and Jones – one wearing a black balaclava mask and the other wearing a black mask with a red logo – robbed a Walgreens store in Glendale,” the release said. “The suspects robbed a store customer who was at a register attempting to purchase some items, held the victim at gunpoint, and stole the victim’s iPhone.”
They also robbed a store employee, who “in fear for her life” took one of the robbers to the safe at the back of the store before she “noticed the robber was distracted talking to the other robber,” locked herself in the office and called 911, officials said.
Though the robbers didn’t get into the safe, they made off with four iPhones and about $776 from the cash registers before fleeing in a white Honda Civic that had been booked through a carsharing company, investigators said.
The three were arrested a week later after police used phone and GPS data to track them.
“At the time of their arrests, Jones and Sanders allegedly possessed handguns consistent with the firearms used in the Walgreens robbery,” the release said. “Law enforcement also found clothing – including the black mask with a red logo – consistent with what one of the suspects wore during that robbery.”
The three are now in federal custody and were due to appear in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.
If convicted of both charges, each person could be sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on the robbery charge and up to life in prison on the gun charge.