Five jailed men were indicted Sunday in connection with their alleged roles in the zip tie crime wave that terrorized Mesa earlier this year.
The 96 counts, announced by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, contain multiple charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, misconduct involving weapons and aggravated assault.
Between May 25 and Oct. 13, four Mesa grocery markets and discount stores fell prey to robbers. The assailants beat a store owner, fired shots and bound victims — including a child — with zip ties, authorities said. In one incident, the bandits tied the hands of 14 people.
“It was a violent crime spree that was very disturbing,” Thomas said.
The men also are suspects in two similar incidents in Phoenix and one in Buckeye, but Thomas’ office has yet to file charges connected with those crimes.
Authorities believe the men stole about $365,000 during the seven robberies.
Because the robberies were exceptionally violent and well-planned, Mesa police Chief George Gascón assembled a team of eight detectives and a sergeant to solve the crimes.
The team’s investigation culminated Oct. 28 with the arrests.
“I commend the Mesa Police Department for cracking this cell of alleged criminals and bringing them to justice,” Thomas said.
Indicted were: Kalib Andrade-Mondragon, 21, of Gilbert; Juan José Mendez, 32, of Mesa; Humberto Ochoa-Alvarado, 30, of Gilbert; Juan Felipe Torres-Torres, 25, of Gilbert; and Javier Robledo-Rodriguez, 26, of Mesa.
Four of the five men, all but Mendez, are being held without bail under Proposition 100 because they are suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
Some defendants claim they had been previously deported, Thomas said.
“We need to recognize the reality that there is a clear link between our illegal immigration problem and our crime problem,” Thomas said.
A sixth man, Ivan Rodriguez-Robledo, was indicted with the others on a charge of intent to forge a fingerprint card. But he is not believed to be one of the robbers, a spokesman for Thomas said.