L.A. gangsters used painter suits, assault rifles and zip ties for brazen armored car heists

A Brinks truck
A Brinks truck is parked outside of Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2023.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
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The driver had stepped out of the Brinks truck to make a cash delivery at a Taco Bell when he saw the gun.

The man holding the AR-15 wore a white painter suit. He fumbled for the driver’s keys and handed them to a similarly dressed accomplice, who climbed inside the armored car. A minute ticked by. The driver stared down the muzzle of the rifle. Then a shout from the truck: “Hey, let’s go!”

Police found the getaway car abandoned half a mile away. The cash and the suspects were gone.


The heist last June in Reseda was the work of a crew that targeted armored cars in a series of sophisticated robberies across Los Angeles County that netted six-figure hauls, authorities say. After casing their targets and studying routines for weeks, the crew waylaid drivers as they picked up or delivered bulk cash at banks, credit unions, markets, fast-food restaurants and a check-cashing business, according to a search warrant affidavit reviewed by The Times.

The crew was composed of ex-convicts from the West Boulevard Crips, East Coast Crips and Black P Stone gangs, some of whom had met while serving time in state prison, according to court records.

Thieves recently managed to carry off a staggering $30 million from a cash storage facility in Sylmar and loot millions of dollars in jewelry from an idling Brinks truck without firing a shot — heists that have confounded investigators and made fodder for headlines around the world. But meanwhile, a very different operation — brazen and lightning-quick robberies committed in broad daylight — played out on the streets of L.A., with all the twists and turns of a Hollywood thriller.

Los Angeles police responded to three separate alarms at GardaWorld’s Sylmar facility on the day criminals stole as much as $30 million from the vault there.

April 19, 2024

The case took authorities from a darkened oil field in Baldwin Hills to a predawn standoff in the San Fernando Valley, where one member of the crew refused to go quietly.

But for another suspect, the police were too late. They found his body on the side of a road with a bullet in his head.

A ski mask, an AR-15 and bags of cash

The crew first struck in February 2022. An armored car driver was picking up cash from a Wescom Credit Union in Hawthorne when three men approached him, FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Cardenas wrote in an affidavit.


One wore a ski mask and a yellow security guard shirt. He forced the driver to the ground at rifle-point.

With the muzzle of the rifle pressed into the driver’s head, two others grabbed bags of cash and checks. They fled in a white Honda Accord with $166,640, according to one of the suspect’splea agreement.

Over the next year, the crew held up armored car drivers outside a Bank of America branch in Inglewood, a 99 Cents Only Store on Crenshaw Boulevard and a check-cashing business at the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Adams Boulevard, according to Cardenas’ affidavit.

Suspect wanted for a series of armored car robberies.
This suspect, seen in a CCTV footage, is wanted for a series of armored car robberies between February 2022 and February 2023.

A Brinks driver was making a delivery at PLS Check Cashers when he noticed a green laser sight being pointed at him, the agent wrote. Three masked men approached, one holding what the driver described as a “submachine gun.”

Their orders were confusing, the driver said. They told him to lie down, then stand up, then get on his knees. After seizing his keys and gun, the suspects took bags of money from the truck, Cardenas wrote. The haul totaled $374,168.


Authorities identified two half-brothers, James Russell Davis and Deneyvous Hobson, as suspects. Three weeks before the first job in Hawthorne, an employee at the credit union had called the police to report something suspicious: a white Chevrolet Tahoe circling the branch for an hour. Its occupants seemed to be photographing a delivery of cash from an armored car.

Officers pulled over the Tahoe and questioned Davis and Hobson, who showed identification that listed an address in the West Adams neighborhood. When detectives and agents searched the Chesapeake Avenue house in October 2022, they seized a surveillance system that showed getaway cars used in the heists had been parked outside the home, Cardenas wrote.

James Russel Davis
James Russell Davis was arrested in a series of armored car robberies between February 2022 and February 2023.

Davis is a member of the West Boulevard Crips, according to a search warrant affidavit, while Hobson is from the Black P Stones. Questioned during a traffic stop by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, Hobson disavowed his gang ties.

“I went all the way legit, man, all the way legit,” he said, according to a transcript of the conversation.

Hobson was arrested in February 2023. Davis was captured a month later after the FBI went public with a manhunt and a $25,000 reward. Neither man’s lawyer returned requests for comment.


Davis pleaded guilty in February to robbery and gun charges, admitting he cased the Wescom Credit Union and acted as a lookout. He faces a minimum of 10 years when he is sentenced in June. Hobson has pleaded not guilty and is set to stand trial in September.

But even as the half-brothers sat in a federal detention center, the heists continued.

Gone in 20 seconds

The morning of June 10, 2023, a Brinks armored car pulled into the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. One of the drivers stayed in the truck while the other went inside to make a pickup.

As he returned with the money, a man wearing a white jumpsuit stepped out of a white Lexus SUV holding a rifle, Det. Emily Delph of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division wrote in a search warrant affidavit.

He shoved the driver to the ground and took the bag of cash while a second suspect trained a rifle on the driver inside the truck. “Let’s go!” the driver of the Lexus shouted. “Hurry up!”

The Lexus, which was registered to an Arkansas limited liability company, was found abandoned in a nearby alley. It’s unclear how much cash was taken during the robbery, which lasted just 20 seconds, according to Delph’s affidavit.

Jose Luis Saenz spent 14 years on the run after he was linked to a string of brazen murders. Authorities eventually tracked him down in Mexico — but not before he popped back up on the doorstep of a man who’d lost half a million in drug money.

April 18, 2024

Seventeen days later, the crew held up the Brinks driver at the Taco Bell on Reseda Boulevard. Police found the getaway car parked half a mile away on a residential street. The silver Toyota CHR had been reported stolen at 12:35 a.m. that morning in West Adams, Delph wrote.


In the final heist linked to the crew, a Brinks driver was robbed while filling ATMs in South Los Angeles the morning of Oct. 16.

“Based off of the manner in which the robberies occurred, the similarities of the weapons used and the attire that the suspects wear, I believe the above-listed robberies are connected,” Delph wrote.

Combing through Hobson‘s and Davis’ phone records, detectives found they’d been communicating during the robberies with a number used by Jadie Lee Young Jr., a 30-year-old member of the West Boulevard Crips who’d served 12 years in prison for assault, Delph wrote.

Young was arrested on suspicion of possessing a gun as a felon in June 2023. Inside his truck, police found more than $10,000 in cash packaged “similar to the manner in which Brinks bundles their money,” Delph wrote. Young told the officers he’d recently bought the truck and moved into a new apartment in Windsor Hills.

Detectives got a warrant for Young’s phone records. They showed he was near the 7-Eleven during the robbery and in the area of the Taco Bell two weeks before the heist, which indicated he was casing the location, Delph wrote.

But before the LAPD could arrest Young, another police agency found him first.

A leap as cops come calling

Young lay on the side of Fairfax Avenue, among the nodding derricks of the Inglewood oil field. Sheriff’s deputies found the body at 4 a.m. on Dec. 20.


Det. Ray Lugo of the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said Young was believed to have been shot in the head in the LAPD’s jurisdiction before his body was dumped in the hills outside the city.

His death is being investigated by the LAPD, Lugo said. Delph declined to comment on Young’s homicide.

A man accused of talking his way past the front desks of posh Beverly Hills hotels and walking off with millions of dollars in jewelry admitted Tuesday that he stole a guest’s diamond necklace valued at $395,000.

April 2, 2024

In her affidavit, the detective said she learned Young was communicating during the 7-Eleven and Taco Bell robberies with a number subscribed to Zeff Rocco, an East Coast Crip who’d done prison time for carjacking.

On Rocco’s iCloud account, detectives found photographs of guns resembling those used in the robberies, Delph wrote. Rocco also shared a photograph of bundles of cash the day of the Taco Bell heist, according to Delph’s affidavit.

At 5 a.m. on March 21, a SWAT team assembled in the stairwell of a Reseda Boulevard apartment building. “Zeff Roco, this is the LAPD!” an officer shouted into a bullhorn, according to body camera footage released last week. “Come out with your hands up and surrender immediately!”

An officer managed to reach Rocco on the phone. “We’ve been waiting and our patience is growing thin,” he said, “so I need you to surrender and come out.”

Rocco hung up. Surveillance cameras captured him clambering over the balcony of his third-floor apartment, wearing only shorts and sneakers and carrying an assault rifle. He jumped down to a grass dog run and fumbled for the rifle.


“He’s got a gun!” an officer yelled before opening fire. “Don’t reach for it! Don’t reach for it! Let it go!”

The officer fired again. “Let it go! Stop reaching for it!” Four more shots boomed out.

Inside the dead man’s apartment, police found high-capacity magazines and body armor, an LAPD spokeswoman said.

That same morning, detectives arrested Disaac Jones, 33, whose DNA was found on a glove left inside the getaway car used in the 7-Eleven heist, according to Delph’s affidavit.

Jones was released on $150,000 bond after pleading not guilty to two counts of robbery. He declined to comment.