|Hamilton Twp, Mercer County N.J. – A three month investigation by the New Jersey State Police has led to the arrest of four Trenton men in connection with the armed robbery of a Sunoco gas station on the New Jersey Turnpike. The robbery appears to be, in part, an inside job, since one of those arrested was working at the gas station on the night of the robbery.
On the evening of Saturday, December 29, troopers from Moorestown Barracks responded to the Woodrow Wilson Service Area to investigate an armed robbery. Troopers reviewed video surveillance that showed two men armed with handguns entered the business office, assault and tie up an employee, and take an undisclosed amount of cash.
Within days, detectives from the Troop “D” Criminal Investigations Office made significant progress in the case. They developed two suspects, Pedro Perez, 35, of Ashmore Avenue and Byron Rodas, 20 of South Clinton Avenue. Rodas was working as an attendant at the targeted gas station. He walked away from the Sunoco office during the robbery, and initially gave troopers a false identity. Later in the investigation, detectives identified Samuel-Matias Cruz, 33, and Arturo DeLaCruz, 34, both of Hewitt Street as additional suspects.
On Tuesday, January 8, Rodas was interviewed at the Moorestown Barracks for providing false information. He was arrested and charged with Hindering Arrest, Identify Theft, and Forgery. He denied any involvement in the armed robbery, and was released pending a court date.
The investigation continued, and on Wednesday, March 20, State Police, Trenton Police, and ICE, executed a search warrant at the residence Perez and Rodas shared on South Clinton Avenue. Detectives recovered clothing and the victim’s personal property along with other evidence further implicating the two.
Perez, who was located at the residence, was charged with Armed Robbery, Armed Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Criminal Restraint, Theft, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon he was lodged in the Mercer County Jail in lieu of $70,000 full cash bail.
Byron Rodas allegedly provided information to Perez and Matias-Cruz about the layout of the gas station. He was arrested at his residence and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, Conspiracy to Commit Armed Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Restraint, Theft, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (for a pair of ‘brass knuckles’ found in his possession) he was lodged in the Mercer County Jail in lieu of $100,000 full cash bail.
On Tuesday, March 26, troopers assisted Trenton Police with the execution of a search warrant at Arturo DeLaCruz’s apartment. Investigators recovered additional evidence linking the four to the armed robbery. DeLaCruz was processed for the arrest at the Burlington County Jail, where he was already incarcerated for an armed robbery in Westampton Township one week prior. He was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, and remains in the Burlington County Jail on $100,000 full cash bail in reference to the new charges.
The last arrest was made on Wednesday, April 10, when the State Police Fugitive Unit and the US Marshals Task Force located and arrested Samuel Matias-Cruz in Pleasantville, N.J. Cruz was charged with Armed Robbery, Armed Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Criminal Restraint, Theft, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. He was lodged in the Mercer County Jail in Lieu of $572,500 full cash bail. Samuel Cruz was also wanted in Puerto Rico for Homicide.
Charges are mere accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.