US woman leading robbery gang gets 37-yr jail term for armed home invasion, looting
Washington: An American woman, who led a gang of robbers, has been sentenced to 37 years in prison on the charge of conducting armed home invasions of families specifically of Asian and Indian ancestry across the United States.
Chaka Castro (44) of Houston, Texas, was sentenced on Monday by US District Court Judge Laurie J Michelson of the Eastern District of Michigan.
After a five-week trial, Castro was convicted of one count of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and four counts of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
According to evidence presented during the trial, Castro and her accomplices committed a string of home invasions in Georgia, New York, Ohio, Michigan and Texas from 2011 to 2014.
The leader of the gang was Castro. She would make lists of robbery targets in various states around the county, specifically families of Asian and Indian ancestry, and then assign accomplices to carry out armed robberies of these families within their homes, the Department of Justice said.
Once Castro assigned a crew to a particular area, members of the group would travel to that location, conduct surveillance and execute the robberies.
Noting that the crews followed a particular mode of operation in each of the robberies, the Department of Justice said they took disguise with clothing and bandanas so that robbery victims would have difficulty in identifying them.
They would openly carry and brandish firearms to gain control of the victims and then immediately corral the victims, including children, into one location in the home.
At least one robber would then restrain the victims with duct tape, as another would ransack the home in search of cash, jewellery and electronics to steal. The group organized their trips to involve multiple home invasion robberies over a series of days, the Justice Department said.