Two L.A. County Men Charged with Armed Robbery in Connection with Spree Targeting Massage Parlors in L.A. and Orange Counties

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Two Los Angeles County men were charged today in a federal criminal complaint alleging they committed more than a dozen armed robberies of massage parlors in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Andy Cuellar, 28, of Hawthorne, and Arturo Morales, 27, of Downey, were arrested last Friday and are scheduled to make their initial appearances tomorrow in United States District Court in Santa Ana.

The defendants are charged with interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act) and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. Their arraignment is expected in the coming weeks.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, on the evening of February 16, Cuellar drove the getaway vehicle – a black Jeep Grand Cherokee – with Morales as the passenger to multiple massage parlors before robbing one such business in Torrance. After the robbery, Cuellar and Morales allegedly were located less than two miles away at a gas station, standing at the back of the Jeep and going through items taken in the robbery, throwing some of them in the trash.

Once law enforcement arrived on scene, the defendants allegedly fled on foot and discarded items they had stolen. At the time of his arrest, Morales was found to have approximately $4,000 in cash on his person while Cuellar carried $400 and was found to have the same type of clothing – including a blue Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap identified in previous robberies of massage parlors, the affidavit alleges.

After the defendants were arrested, law enforcement searched the Jeep, in which they found a .38-caliber firearm that had been reported stolen in 2018, according to the affidavit.

Law enforcement believes that Cuellar and Morales are responsible for at least 12 additional armed robberies, including the alleged robberies of massage parlors from January 12 to January 29 in Santa Ana, Reseda, Venice, Orange, Bellflower, and Redondo Beach.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If convicted, Cuellar and Morales will face statutory maximum sentences of 20 years in federal prison for the robbery charge and life in federal prison for the firearm charge.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Orange County Violent Crime Task Force (OCVCTF) is comprised of federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the ATF, the Brea Police Department, the Santa Ana Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the Fullerton Police Department. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin J. Butler and Jena A. MacCabe of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.

Contact

Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
ciaran.mcevoy@usdoj.gov
(213) 894-4465

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