Houston man sentenced to 40 years for leading string of robberies targeting homes of Asian families

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A Houston man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his leadership in armed home invasions targeting families of South Asian and East Asian descent across the United States. 

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Juan Olaya, 41, was the "road boss" for a large crew involved in a string of robberies in Michigan, Georgia, New York, and Texas from August through December 2014. In other words, Olaya would recruit crew members and assign them roles before traveling to specific locations, surveilling them and ultimately robbing homes of families of South Asian and East Asian descent. 

"Juan Olaya and his robbery crews committed a host of violent crimes that terrorized innocent victims across the United States," said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. "His crimes are made more disturbing because the victims were chosen based on their ethnicity or race. The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to investigate and hold accountable predators like Olaya who threaten the safety of our communities."

The DOJ says the crew "preferred" to rob homes while families were inside so they could point out valuable items, holding them at gunpoint, tying homeowners and even children up while one or the other members of the crew "ransacked the home in search of cash, jewelry, and electronics." 

"The Criminal Division is committed to protecting the American public from violent criminals, particularly when those criminals target individuals based on their ethnicity or race," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. "We hope that this prosecution, trial conviction, and sentence will serve as a deterrent to others who might think about engaging in similar violent conduct."

The 41-year-old was convicted by a federal jury back in March 2020 for one count of racketeering conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and four counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. 

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