A yearlong, multijurisdictional investigation involving a group that allegedly targeted victims of Asian descent in muggings in four Bay Area counties has culminated with three arrests, police and prosecutors said Friday.
The San Jose Police Department's robbery unit, with assistance from the department's covert response unit and detectives from the Hayward Police Department, concluded the investigation by initiating the arrests and eventual apprehension of the three suspects, who worked in concert to commit dozens of robberies throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Asian females were frequently targeted, and many of them were injured in the robberies.
Anthony Michael Robinson, 24, of Stockton; Derje Damond Blanks, 23, of San Jose; and Cameron Alonzo Moody, 27, of East Palo Alto have been arrested and charged in connection with the crimes.
More than 40 purse snatchings and robberies were recorded in the spree, which covered the cities of Campbell, Dublin, East Palo Alto, Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Newark, San Jose, San Leandro and San Pablo, according to the District Attorney's Office, which has charged the men for the thefts and hate crime enhancements.
The spree started in late 2020, and in some cases, the defendants allegedly referred to the victims with ethnic slurs, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. They allegedly followed the women as they walked in parking lots to their vehicles, waited until the victims were in their car and either smashed a window or opened a door to take a purse from the passenger seat.
Robinson and Blanks were located and arrested in San Jose on Sept. 8. During apprehension efforts, Robinson fled in a vehicle, ran a red light and collided with another vehicle — which injured a 2-year-old girl and her father. Robinson and Blanks were booked in Santa Clara County jail on over 70 counts of felony robbery and have appeared in court for arraignment hearings on Thursday and Friday. They were also scheduled for arraignment on Monday afternoon, according to online court records.
On Thursday, Moody was located and arrested in Union City by members of the covert response unit. Two loaded firearms were recovered. One of them was a homemade "ghost gun." Moody was booked into Santa Clara County jail for a multitude of felony robbery charges and is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment Tuesday afternoon.
"I want to thank all of our department members, as well as the outside agencies who assisted with this long and complex investigation," said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata. "Thanks to their hard work, there are three less predators targeting members of our community. We are sensitive to the hate aspect targeting Asian females. I commend District Attorney Jeff Rosen for pursuing hate crime enhancements. We have tenacious investigators, and a dedicated apprehension team that was tasked with bringing these suspects to justice."
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Estantino of the San Jose Police Department's robbery unit at 408-277-4166, or Detective Niedenthal of the Hayward Police Department at 510-293-7167.