Authorities arrested a Paramount man, allegedly while he was in the act of robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy in Garden Grove at gunpoint, and investigators believe he was involved in a series of similar robberies in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Judge Thomas Jr., 32, was taken into custody about 7 p.m. Sunday by members of a multi-agency task force after “he was observed holding a cashier at gunpoint and committing an armed robbery at a Rite Aid pharmacy in Garden Grove,” according to a statement from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Thomas has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and robbery, officials said.
“During the investigation, the ATF task force developed evidence tying Thomas to several other robberies of Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies in Los Angeles and Orange counties dating back to Feb. 12,” an ATF statement said.
The ATF’s Orange County Violent Crime Task Force includes detectives from the Brea and Fullerton police departments, assisted by personnel from the Buena Park Police Department.
“The ATF task force conducted extensive surveillance of this subject during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, during the armed robberies, Thomas typically entered the businesses and brandished a gun once the clerk opened the cash register.
Thomas is a suspect in the following robberies:
— Feb. 12: Walgreens, 1826 W. Orangethorpe Blvd., Fullerton
— Feb. 26: Walgreens, 5005 Ball Road, Cypress
— Feb. 27: Walgreen, 8900 E. Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera
— March 5: Rite Aid, 4520 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
— March 8: Walgreens, 9031 Rosecrans Ave., Bellflower
— March 14: Walgreens, 1538 E. Chapman Ave., Orange
— March 19: Rite Aid, 1825 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, March 19
— March 22: Rite Aid, 11961 Valley View St., Garden Grove
“ATF created the Orange County Violent Crime Task Force with our local law enforcement partners to target and investigate violent and dangerous individuals,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge of Los Angeles Field Division Monique Villegas.
“ATF is fully operational and carrying out our mission to protect the public and regulate the gun and explosives industries,” Villegas said.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott D. Tenley of the Santa Ana Branch Office.
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