Yuma police have arrested a fourth gang member in connection with a string of armed robberies and other violent crimes that happened last month.
Angel Varela, 18, was arrested at approximately 3:50 p.m. on Monday following a foot chase with officers, in the 1800 block of Maple Ave., in which he threw a stolen handgun away before being caught. The handgun was recovered at the scene.
Varela, who was wanted for an armed robbery committed on Jan. 19 in the 1700 block W. Camino Kino, has been booked into the Yuma County jail on multiple felony charges. He made his initial appearance in Yuma Justice Court on Tuesday afternoon. He will return to court on Thursday, at which time he will be informed if a criminal complaint is being filed against him charging him with any offenses.
Previously arrested in connection to the string of armed robberies were Abel M. Ruiz, 17, Anthony Michael Sanchez, 16, and Isaac J. Garcia, 17, each of whom has been charged as an adult in the crimes.
Officer Cruz Vidal, a spokesperson for the Yuma Police Department, said that Varela was the last suspect currently being sought in the armed robberies.
“At this point we are not actively searching for anyone else, but the investigation is still ongoing and more leads may develop,” Vidal said.
Ruiz, Sanchez and Garcia have already each been charged with one count of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, theft and assisting a criminal street gang for the Jan. 19 armed robbery that happened in the 1700 block of West Camino Kino, the same one Varela was wanted for.
Ruiz and Sanchez were both also charged in a separate case with additional counts of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, theft and assisting a criminal street gang in an armed robbery that happened on Jan. 27 in the parking lot of El Encanto Apartments, 2651 S. 8th Ave.
They are each being held on $1 million bond for each case against them. However, since Ruiz and Sanchez have two cases against them, they are being held on a combined $2 million bail.
In addition, YPD suspects that all four teens were involved in several other violent crimes that are still being investigated.
On Jan. 29, Ruiz and Sanchez were arrested in the 1000 block of West 10th Street, and Garcia was arrested in the 700 block of South 10th Avenue. After the arrests, search warrants were executed that day at three separate residences in the 1000 block of South 9th Avenue, the 200 block of South 8th Avenue and the 3500 block of West 8th Street.
During a search of the homes, police allegedly discovered the 9mm Rugar handgun believed to be used in the robberies, as well as a stolen assault weapon, a stolen rifle, a stolen ballistic vest, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
The Yuma Police Department encourages anyone with any information about this case to please call Det. Valenzuela at (928) 373-4701 or 78-Crime to remain anonymous.