An Albuquerque man thought to have committed a string of bank robberies across Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Mississippi, and California was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison for an armed bank robbery in Abilene, Texas, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Fernando Enriquez, 35, pleaded guilty in July to one count of aggravated bank robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix.
According to plea papers, Mr. Enriquez admitted that on March 29, 2022, he entered a Chase Bank in Abilene, Texas, brandished a firearm, demanded cash from the teller, and then fled the scene.
Both the teller and another employee activated their silent alarms during the robbery. When law enforcement arrived, a witness turned over cell phone video he’d recorded of the suspect exiting the bank and entering a white Chevrolet suburban bearing Mississippi license plates.
Shortly thereafter, Texas DPS and Abilene Police Department officers pulled over the suburban in Merkel, Texas and detained Mr. Enriquez and his girlfriend. Inside the vehicle, officers found a firearm, a gray hoodie that matched the descriptions of the one worn by the robber, and a significant sum of U.S. currency.
Law enforcement transported Mr. Enriquez and his girlfriend to the Abilene Police Department, where the woman told FBI agents that over the past 14 months, she and Mr. Enriquez have lived in Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and California. She stated that though Mr. Enriquez was not employed most of that time, he always seemed to have cash on hand.
She told officers that prior to the robbery, Mr. Enriquez left her and his children at a motel, stating he had to fill the car with gas. When he returned, she said, he rushed to get the vehicle loaded and leave. She described Mr. Enriquez’s driving during their departure from Abilene as faster and more erratic than usual.
Based on physical description and the modus operandi, investigators believed that the suspect who committed the Abilene robbery may have committed similar robberies in Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and California. They showed the girlfriend two photographs from the other bank robberies, both provided by FBI Phoenix. She identified the man in the photographs as Mr. Enriquez.
On April 19, 2022, Mr. Enriquez was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona with four counts of bank robbery and four counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Following today’s sentencing, Mr. Enriquez will be transported to the District of Arizona to face those charges. (An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Enriquez is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.)
The Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Phoenix and Dallas Field Offices conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Abilene Police Department, and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Tusing and Jeff Haag of the Northern District of Texas prosecuted the case with significant support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona.