Two men involved in the 2019 robbery of La Lupita Mexican store-restaurant in Lenoir City are facing long jail terms and deportation.
Juan Sanchez, 24, of Mexico, was sentenced Feb. 3 to 288 months in prison by Judge Thomas A. Varlan in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey’s office. Varland also sentenced Emanuel Trejo, 22, of Mexico, in November to 192 months in prison.
Under an agreement, Trejo and Sanchez pleaded guilty on three counts of Hobbs Act Robbery, which criminalizes robberies of businesses of people in interstate commerce, and three counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm in relation to the robberies.
Sanchez and Trejo committed armed robberies in Loudon, Blount and Knox counties.
The La Lupita robbery in Lenoir City took place June 29, 2019.
“Both subjects entered the building, one with a handgun, and robbed the clerk at the cash register,” Don White, Lenoir City police chief, said. “Inv. (Brad) Brown and (Jason) Smith responded from the police department to the scene and at that particular time we did not have any true identifiers on the individuals, so as they were working through their investigation — the timeline I think was about seven to 10 days after our robbery — there was a robbery in Blount County in Maryville. ... Brown and Smith followed up because the robberies seemed to be similar and then at the end of the day it was the same individuals and we got federal prosecution because of the firing of the weapons.”
The two were taken into custody in July 2019 by Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
Sanchez and Trejo’s criminal indictment was a result of BCSO and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force.
“We’re just happy that we were able to identify the two individuals and make the arrest and get them successfully charged and sentenced,” White said. “They were both obviously dangerous individuals that were frequenting our community and creating a threat for our citizens and visitors.”