A-Team Busts Robbery Ring
April 13, 1994, began like any other day in Utah County. The commuter traffic was heavy and fast. Troopers were busy issuing citations and answering a variety of calls. Suddenly the routine of the day was broken by a triple beep from DPS dispatch.
“Attempt to locate, armed and dangerous,” announced dispatch. “Yellow 1982 Plymouth Reliant station wagon, Utah 529 FWV. Four or five Hispanic male suspects just entered a Provo residence at gunpoint, pistol whipped and robbed the occupants of cash, drugs and guns. Suspects left the scene in victim’s car. Unknown direction of travel.”
It was Wednesday morning and Sergeant Langford’s “A” Team was working special enforcement. Trooper Dennis Bang was just clearing from a traffic stop at 1200 South, Orem. He drove to 20th South and set up surveillance. “I had only been at this location for about two minutes,” he later recalled. “I saw a northbound vehicle which matched the description.” As the suspect vehicle passed, Trooper Bang saw the license plate – it was a match. Trooper Bang did not pursue immediately, but waited until the vehicle was a short distance ahead. “I did not want them to realize that I had spotted them and risk a high speed chase,” stated Bang.
After calling for back-up, Trooper Bang continued to follow, giving his location. All troopers in the area switched to the statewide frequency. Dispatch advised that a second armed robbery was just being reported that was very similar to the first. Several Hispanic males had entered an Orem home, brandishing handguns. The occupants were beaten, terrorized, threaten with their lives, robbed and tied-up. Weapons, drugs, jewelry, appliances and money were stolen. The suspects were described as armed and dangerous and possibly gang members.
Trooper Doug Miller joined Trooper Bang at Orem Center Street. Waiting at 800 North was the rest of the “A” Team. Sergeant Langford’s crew adopted this name since they were District 6A. Once the suspect vehicle had passed 800 North, the “A” Team proceeded with a felony stop. Sergeant Dave Decker assisted by closing lane #3. Trooper Dennis Shields took up a position to the right of Trooper Bang. Sergeant Langford was to the left of Trooper Bang. Using his vehicle’s loud speaker, Trooper Bang gave verbal commands to the two male suspects. The passenger was frisked and cuffed by Trooper Doug Miller. The driver was frisked and cuffed by Trooper Rick Mayo. Both suspects were in possession of marijuana; and at first lied about their identity.
A search of the vehicle produced two shotguns, one of which was sawed-off, a high powered rifle, and several stolen items, plus ammunition, drugs, and cash. Detectives from Orem and Provo responded to the scene. Subsequent investigation led to the arrest of four additional suspects in the Salt Lake area. The suspects ranged in age from 17 to 35 years old. Four were male and one was female. All had extensive criminal records. All were members of a Salt Lake gang. The suspects were charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, theft of firearms, and vehicle theft.
The suspects had devised a plan to hit known drug houses. They were of the opinion that these victims would not call the police. A third drug house in Salt Lake, which had been robbed in similar fashion earlier in the day, was also linked to this crime spree.