$10 million bail set for each of 3 ‘mystery’ men accused of $500,000 jewel heist in SeaTac

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SEATTLE — Bail was set at $10 million each Thursday for three mystery men believed to be a part of a “highly organized, well-funded and well trained criminal organization” who are accused of robbing a courier of $500,000 in jewels in SeaTac Monday.

“Little to nothing is known about who they are or where they are from,” the prosecution said in court documents Thursday.

The men, charged with first-degree robbery, provided names upon their arrest, but “none of the three individuals had any form of valid (or invalid) identification on them; no driver’s license, no passports, no identification cards, no travel documents.”

One of the men identified himself as Marlo Abrau, but fingerprint analysis tentatively identified him as Jorge Tapias-Jaramillo. But that might be a fake identity, too. No records were found on him. “It is unknown where he is from,” court records said, and “he admitted to court services only that he has been in the area for two weeks and came from Colombia via New York.”

A second suspect who called himself Pablo Sanchez was ‘tentatively identified” through fingerprint analysis as Jhonnatan Andres Villada Ruiz, possibly also a fake name. It is also unknown where he is from. “He claims he came from Ecuador via New York” but the Department of Homeland Security “believes he originates from Colombia.”

The third man, who called himself Gustav Orrieta, was “tentatively identified” through fingerprint analysis as Jhon Alexaneder Jaramillo Zuluaga — but no other records of that person exists. He claimed he came from Mexico via New York, but Homeland Security “believes he originates from Colombia.”

“These defendants represent a highly organized, well-funded and well trained criminal organization,” the prosecution said. “They carried nearly identical ‘equipment’ on them when arrested, including two phones each, wireless headsets, and a lack of identification.”  The robbery itself was “carried out with almost military-like precision.”

The three are accused of robbing a traveling jewelry courier Ohn Fogel, 43, outside his Seatac motel on Monday, Jan. 30. Police said in court documents that Fogel exited his rental car with his suitcase of jewelry at the motel when a silver van with Oregon license plates sped toward him and then stopped directly in front of him. The side door opened and two masked men wearing dark clothing jumped out and pushed Fogel to the ground. One of the robbers pinned Fogel to the ground, another took his suitcase and a third sliced the tires of his rental car before they all got in the van and sped off.

King County sheriff’s deputies learned through their investigation that the men switched vehicles at another motel and drove off in a Dodge Durango. They were traveling south on Interstate 5.

Later that night, State Patrol troopers saw the Durango at a gas station in Chehalis. As troopers approached the Durango, one suspect fled on foot and was not located. But troopers arrested the three suspects in the Durango. The $500,000 in jewels were recovered.

“The current robbery is only one in a series of nearly identical robberies that have occurred in our area,” the court documents said. “All of the robberies have targeted solo jewelry couriers, all have been carried out with the same display of planning and sophistication … in those prior successful robberies, the robbers have absconded with over $1 million in gold, diamonds and jewelry. None of it has been recovered to date.”