SANTA ANA (CNS) – A 27-year-old Fullerton man charged with robbing a Chevron gas station in Artesia is suspected of being the culprit behind 15 other holdups dating back to October 2016, federal authorities said today.
Gerardo Sotelo was arrested Tuesday after allegedly robbing the Artesia gas station — the same one he also allegedly robbed on April 18, according to an affidavit filed by an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent.
Federal authorities said they suspect Sotelo in a string of robberies that began with a Brea 7-Eleven store on Oct. 4, 2016. The same store was robbed again April 11 of this year.
According to federal officials, Sotelo is also suspected of robbing:
- a 7-Eleven in Pico Rivera on Oct. 19, 2016;
- a 7-Eleven in Norwalk on Oct. 21, 2016;
- a 7-Eleven in Fullerton on Oct. 26, 2016;
- a 7-Eleven in La Habra on Oct. 27, 2016, and March 27 and again April 5 of this year;
- a Chevron in Whittier on April 7;
- a Chevron in Brea on April 18;
- another Chevron in Artesia that same day;
- a Chevron in Cypress on April 20;
- a 7-Eleven in Fullerton, also on April 20;
- a Shell gas station in Fullerton on April 24; and
- a Mobil gas station in Fountain Valley on April 28.
Investigators suspect the gap from 2016 until this year may stem from the defendant’s arrest on drug charges and violating parole on Oct. 30, 2016.
Sotelo is allegedly a member of a Buena Park gang that is known for wearing Brooklyn Dodgers baseball caps, which the suspect was wearing in some of the robberies, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors got permission from a judge to track the GPS on Sotelo’s phone, so they had him under surveillance and were able to arrest him within 100 yards of the Tuesday gas station in Artesia.
Twice during the heist, the weight of $25 worth of pennies broke plastic shopping bags Sotelo was using, prosecutors allege. The clerk recognized Sotelo as being the same suspect who robbed the gas station on April 18, prosecutors said.
Sotelo admitted to agents that he robbed some of the stores, but couldn’t remember all of the heists because he was using heroin at the time, according to the affidavit.
Sotelo has a prior criminal history for taking a car without permission, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22, 2009; second-degree robbery on Sept. 16, 2011; misdemeanor theft Feb. 7, 2012; and being in a gang and second-degree burglary, both misdemeanors, on Aug. 29, 2012, according to court records.
Sotelo could face up to 20 years in federal prison for each robbery charge.