FBI Increases Reward for Assault Gun Bandits Terrorizing South Florida

By Vic Walter And Krista Kjellman

Nov 22, 2006 9:48am

The FBI has upped the reward to $50,000 for help in capturing three men responsible for nine bank robberies, taking in more than three-quarters of $1 million, because authorities fear it is only a matter of time before someone is killed during one of their operations. Since December 2004, the men have targeted banks in Broward and Palm Beach counties, wearing body armor and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, which has authorities concerned. "They are a dangerous, violent group that has been operating in South Florida now for almost two years," FBI agent Judy Orihuela told ABC News.  "They are armed with assault weapons and wear bullet proof vests indicating they are ready for a gun battle." THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Fugitive Boston Mob Boss Spotted at Gangster Flick? Police to Priests: Thou Shall Not Steal Click Here to Check Out the Latest Brian Ross Webcast on Our Homepage Usually, two or three men enter the bank dressed all in black with ski masks and bulletproof vests, heavily armed and communicating over hand-held two-way radios.  They often order employees and customers to the ground and then take money from the bank’s vault. In the robberies, they have held employees at gunpoint and even pistol-whipped one in the head, knocking the teller down, according to the FBI. So far, law enforcement officials estimate they have stolen almost $800,000. "We want to catch them and get them off the street as soon as possible.  We hope the $50,000 reward will persuade anyone that has information about this group to give us a call before they strike again,"  Agent Orihuela said. Or before one of their robberies ends as the 1997 shootout between a duo of bank robbers and the Los Angeles Police Department. In that case, the two suspects, who were also heavily armed and outfitted in bulletproof vests, were killed but only after they had injured fifteen people during the hour-long shootout. If anyone has information regarding the identity of the South Florida bandits, they should contact the FBI Miami Field Office at (305) 944-9101.

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