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| Crime |

Leader of "RIP Crew" Gets 15 Years in Prison for Cop-Staged Cocaine Robbery and Gun Conviction

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The leader of the "RIP Crew," a group of thugs involved in the illegal-gun and drug business, was sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday.

A federal judge handed down a sentence of 15 years in federal prison for 30-year-old Juan Victor Munoz, a convicted felon, for his role in the sale of an illegal gun and an ounce of cocaine to an undercover federal agent last year.

On May 29, 2009, Munoz sold a gun with a partially removed serial number to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. About a week later, Munoz met with the same agent and sold him an ounce of crack cocaine.

During that meeting, ATF agents "presented an opportunity" for Munoz to steal four kilos of cocaine from an armed drug courier. He agreed.

"Presented an opportunity," as written in the press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, sounds a little entrapment-y, if you ask us, so we called Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, to get some clarification. He says agents basically discussed a situation where a man had some cocaine and Munoz came up with the plan to rob him.

In court transcripts of the trial, obtained by New Times, the agent describes telling Munoz about a group of people from whom he bought cocaine.

Munoz responded by telling the agent "my boys got machine guns and everything." He went on to ask the officer, "if you want me to rush up on that car like a motherfucker, I can. Is that what you want?"

The agent said yes. 

Munoz's "boys" were Sixto Alonzo Castro, 26, Modesto Castro, 28 all of  Phoenix, Ariz.; and Bobby Joe Pierce, 31 of Modesto, California.

With the robbery crew assembled, Munoz and the other "RIP"-ers met with the undercover ATF agents to discuss the robbery.

The next day the robbery was set to go down. The "RIP Crew," equipped with three guns and ski masks, met with the undercover agents again, this time at the predetermined site of the cocaine ripoff -- the rear parking lot of a west Phoenix Costco.

Once at the Costco, the four men were immediately arrested.

After a jury trial in May, Munoz was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense (aid and abet); and felon in possession of a firearm.

The other men, each convicted felons, pleaded guilty to lesser charges earlier this year. Sixto Castro was sentenced to seven years in prison and five years supervised release; Modesto Castro got five years and 10 months in prison, as well as five years' supervised release; and Pierce was sentenced to five years in prison and five years' supervised release.

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