Ex-Tijuana cop gets 2 years for South Bay home break-in plot

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CHULA VISTA (CNS) – A former Tijuana police officer was Tuesday handed a two-year state prison sentence and one of his five co-defendants was given a six-year term for their roles in a planned break-in of a Chula Vista residence, which the group believed was a stash house containing around $1 million in drug money.

Ex-cop Marco Quijas-Castillo, 28, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery for the attempted January break-in, and Mario Eugene Hall, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and firearm possession charges.

Another Tijuana officer, Jesus Estrada Torres, 35, is awaiting trial, as are co-defendants Ignacio Martinez Cruz, 34, Nicholas Jeremiah Shaw, 25, and Tomas Emmanuel Ramirez, 30.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, the two officers and four other defendants believed a shipment of money would be delivered to the three- bedroom residence, which was actually being rented by the FBI. They were informed of the supposed shipment by an undercover FBI agent, according to testimony.

According to the criminal complaint, Quijas-Castillo and Torres crossed into the United States from Mexico with Martinez-Cruz,  and met up in Chula Vista with Hall, Shaw and Ramirez, who prosecutors say traveled to Chula Vista from San Bernardino County.

Castillo and Torres “provided counter-surveillance” at a Kohl’s store in Chula Vista, while the other four men met with the undercover agent, according to the complaint.

Castillo and Torres also provided surveillance near the Chula Vista residence while Shaw walked up to the house, and “entered a code into a lockbox containing a key to enter the house,” the complaint alleges.

According to testimony, the men planned to tie up two people believed to be inside the home, then take the money, but were arrested by law enforcement upon approaching the home.

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