Two L.A. County Men Face Serious Charges for Massage Parlor Robberies

Two men from Los Angeles County are charged with a series of armed robberies. These incidents targeted massage parlors in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The charges against them include interference with commerce by robbery under the Hobbs Act and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Legal Charges and Penal Codes

  • Interference with Commerce by Robbery (Hobbs Act): This federal charge, under 18 U.S.C. § 1951, targets robberies affecting interstate or foreign commerce. The defendants’ actions, targeting massage parlors, fall under this due to the commercial nature of the victims’ businesses.
  • Using and Carrying a Firearm During a Crime of Violence: Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), this charge is applied because the defendants allegedly carried a .38-caliber firearm during the commission of these violent crimes..

Details of the Incident and Arrest

On February 16, Cuellar drove Morales in a black Jeep Grand Cherokee to rob a Torrance massage parlor. Law enforcement later caught them at a gas station, throwing away robbery items. After a foot chase, officers arrested them. Morales carried $4,000, and Cuellar, $400 and wore clothes matching those from earlier robberies.

Officers found a .38-caliber firearm, reported stolen in 2018, in their Jeep. Authorities suspect Cuellar and Morales in 12 additional armed robberies in various cities between January 12 and January 29.

Legal Implications

A criminal complaint is not a conviction. They are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Convictions could lead to 20 years for the robbery and life for the firearm charge.

This case underscores the seriousness of armed robbery and firearm charges under federal law, particularly involving commercial establishments. The use of a stolen firearm elevates the gravity of the offenses, potentially impacting sentencing outcomes.

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