CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A former Tijuana police officer was handed a two- year state prison sentence today for his role in a planned break-in of a Chula Vista residence, which he and others believed was a stash house containing around $1 million in drug money.
Marco Quijas-Castillo, 28, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery for the attempted January break-in.
A fellow Tijuana officer, Jesus Estrada Torres, 35, was also charged in the case and is awaiting trial on a conspiracy charge.
According to preliminary hearing testimony, the two officers and four other men believed a shipment of money would be delivered to the three-bedroom residence, which was actually being rented by the FBI. The defendants were informed of the supposed shipment by an undercover FBI agent, according to testimony.
According to the criminal complaint, Quijas-Castillo and Torres crossed into the United States from Mexico with Ignacio Martinez-Cruz, 34, and met up in Chula Vista with fellow defendants Nicholas Jeremiah Shaw, 25, Mario Eugene Hall, 35, and Tomas Emmanuel Ramirez, 30, who allegedly traveled to Chula Vista from San Bernardino County.
Castillo and Torres ``provided counter-surveillance'' at a Kohl's store in Chula Vista, while the other four men met with the undercover agent, according to the complaint.
Castillo and Torres also provided surveillance near the Chula Vista residence while Shaw walked up to the house, and ``entered a code into a lockbox containing a key to enter the house,'' the complaint alleges.
According to testimony, the men planned to tie up two people believed to be inside the home, then take the money, but were arrested by law enforcement upon approaching the home.