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Tijuana officer to stand trial for alleged plot to steal money from Chula Vista home

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Posted at 1:26 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 16:26:10-04

CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A Tijuana police officer who allegedly took part in a plot to steal more than $1 million from a Chula Vista home, which he and other defendants believed was a stash house containing drug money, was ordered Monday to stand trial on two conspiracy charges.

Jesus Estrada Torres, 35, is accused of planning with five other men to rob the home in late January, after an undercover FBI agent told them a shipment of money would be delivered to the residence, according to testimony at the defendant's preliminary hearing.

A fellow officer, Marco Quijas-Castillo, 27, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit robbery and faces two years in state prison. Four others are also facing various charges in connection with the attempted theft.

RELATED: 2 Tijuana police officers among group charged in Chula Vista home burglary

Testimony at Torres' preliminary hearing indicated the defendants were told two unarmed individuals would be inside the three-bedroom home, which was actually being rented by the FBI for the operation.

The criminal complaint alleges Castillo and Torres crossed into the United States from Mexico with Ignacio Martinez-Cruz, 33, and met up in Chula Vista with fellow defendants Nicholas Jeremiah Shaw, 25, Mario Eugene Hall, 35, and Tomas Emmanuel Ramirez, 29, who traveled to Chula Vista from San Bernardino County.

Castillo and Torres allegedly "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 at 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.

The men had allegedly planned to tie up the two people believed to be inside the home, then take the money, but were arrested by law enforcement upon approaching the home, according to testimony.

The defendants are due back in court June 30 for a readiness conference.