Another La Plaza Mall robbery suspects pleads guilty

Another guilty plea Friday morning leaves just one of the La Plaza Mall seven suspects holding out from admitting to their role in the brazen daylight robbery that sent panic throughout McAllen last summer.

Raul Rangel, 44, entered guilty pleas to five counts of aggravated robbery for his role in the attempted theft of designer watches valued at $2.7 million from the Deutsch & Deutsch jewelry store in the La Plaza Mall on July 28, 2018.

Rangel and six other Mexican nationals used “mini sledge hammers” to smash glass cases in the store, which Saturday shoppers mistook for gunshots and spread rumors of armed gunmen in the mall a little more than a year ago.

On Thursday morning, 430th state District Judge Israel Ramon Jr. handed down the first sentences in the case.

Brayan Oliver Melchor, 24, received a 25-year prison sentence while 27-year-old Miguel Quintanilla was sentenced to 14 years behind bars.

The lone suspect who has not pleaded guilty is 27-year-old Abner Zepeda Posos, who is scheduled for a trial on the merits in the case on Aug. 26.

Posos and Melchor have both previously been convicted for committing a nearly identical crime in Los Angeles, where a group of 10 individuals stormed a jewelry store and used hammers to break glass and steal more than 300 luxury watches valued at more than $4 million, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

That conviction factored into Melchor’s 25-year sentence, Ramon Jr. said Thursday.

Also charged in the La Plaza Mall robbery case are Jorge Angel Mejia, 30, Alberto Rafael Barrera, 34, and 24-year-old Javier Leobardo Olvera.

All three have entered guilty pleas to five counts of aggravated robbery.