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Fourth suspect arraigned in last month's string of robberies
A criminal complaint was filed Thursday against the fourth gang member arrested in connection with a string of armed robberies and other violent crimes that happened last month.
Angel Varela, 18, was arraigned in Yuma Justice Court before Justice of the Peace Greg Stewart, who informed him during a brief court hearing that the Yuma County Attorney's Office was charging him armed robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, theft and assisting a criminal street gang.
In addition to ordering his bond remain at the $500,000 it had previously been set at, Stewart scheduled Varela's next court date — a preliminary hearing — for 4 p.m. March 8. The judge also appointed a public defender to represent him.
Varela, 18, who was wanted in an armed robbery committed on Jan. 19 in the 1700 block of West Camino Kino, was arrested at approximately 3:50 p.m. Monday following a foot chase with officers in the 1800 block of Maple Avenue, in which he reportedly threw a stolen handgun away before being caught. The handgun was recovered at the scene.
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. Yuma police say Varela was the last suspect currently being sought in the armed robberies.
Ruiz, Sanchez and Garcia have each already been charged with one count of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, theft and assisting a criminal street gang. The charges stem from an armed robbery Jan. 19 in the 1700 block of West Camino Kino, the same one Varela was sought in connection with.
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 occurred 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, because 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 taken into custody 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 Ruger 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.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.