Group Posed as Cops to Rob Drug Dealers: Feds

Investigators say woman led home-invasion group

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    The group allegedly posed as police and specialized in robbing drug stash houses.

    A woman charged with leading a heavily-armed group of bandits who posed as police and specialized in robbing drug stash houses was ordered held without bond Thursday.

    Sandra Patricia Montoya-Amaya and six men, including one nicknamed "Psycho," were arrested Sunday in Arlington in a federal undercover operation.

    Two agents from the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives infiltrated the gang by claiming they were drug couriers who wanted to rip off their Colombian suppliers, a criminal complaint said.

    "Montoya-Amaya stated that she was the leader of the group and that the others did whatever she told them to do," the complaint said.

    She bragged to the undercover agents that the group had a vehicle that looked like an undercover police car and that they would conduct home-invasion robberies of drug dealers by dressing as law enforcement officers and yelling "FBI" and an obscenity, an ATF agent wrote.

    Montoya-Amaya and six men, Jose Quiroz Jr., Moises Alvarez, also known as "Psycho," Jose Quiroz Sr., Luis Laonzo Molina, Dimas Pena and Orlean Velasquez, are charged with conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

    The criminal complaint painted a picture of a fearless group not afraid to get in gun battles with other heavily-armed drug dealers guarding their property.

    Montoya-Amaya told the agents she usually acted as the getaway driver while the others went inside to steal drugs, cash and jewelry. Another suspect said the group had been involved in shootouts during previous home invasions, the complaint said.

    Each member of the group had a specific task.

    "One of the Houston members of the group always kicks in the door of the residence, some are responsible for tying up the occupants, and some grab the property to steal," the complaint said.

    In a meeting with undercover agents outside an Arlington restaurant, Montoya-Amaya claimed that the group committed one robbery that netted them $500,000 in cash.

    One of the alleged participants told the agents "if they receive gunfire from within the 'stash house' that they would not hesitate to return fire."

    When they were arrested Sunday, the suspects had numerous guns and fake police gear, including hats which said police, sheriff, and DEA, the ATF said. Montoya-Amaya tried to run but was quickly arrested, agents said. Officers found a pistol in the SUV close to where she had been sitting, the complaint said.

    Six of the seven suspects, including Montoya-Amaya, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Charles Bleil in Fort Worth on Thursday and were ordered detained without bond. The seventh remains in custody pending a detention hearing, said ATF spokesman Tom Crowley.

    Montoya-Amaya's attorney, Catherine Dunnavant, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.