Feds bust man accused of robbing family at cemetery

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico family said the man who robbed them while they were visiting a loved one at a cemetery, has been caught by the feds.

Last summer, Maria Gonzales was visiting her father’s grave with her mother when she said they were robbed at knifepoint. It happened at the San Jose De Armijo cemetery in the South Valley.

Gonzales said when a gold minivan pulled into the cemetery, they didn’t think much about it until a man got out of the van and ran toward them with a knife. “He was yelling at us,” she said.

The man got away with her mother’s purse. It had her credit cards and cash inside. Gonzales filed a police report but said she never thought any arrests would come from it.

“The sense that I got from the sheriff’s office was that these sort of crimes happen a lot,” Gonzales said.

Then, in September, the Albuquerque Police Department said Raul Vargas, 46, robbed a Family Dollar store at gunpoint, although it turned out to be a BB-gun. He made off with about $128, but what he didn’t know is the cashier threw a GPS tracker in with the money.

Detectives with APD tracked Vargas and his accomplice to the Dion’s off Coors and Central where the two ended up in handcuffs.

Gonzales said police tied the 46-year-old to her case after Vargas confessed to robbing two women last year at a cemetery. “I knew immediately that was the man who robbed me and my mom,” she said.

Vargas is a felon who has been convicted of robbery one too many times, so APD handed the case over to the feds. In May, Vargas pleaded guilty in the Family Dollar case and is now facing 20 years in federal prison.

“It makes me have faith in the justice system and it makes me feel a lot better, because when he pulled that knife back toward [my] mom, I knew, in his eye, he was ready to use it,” Gonzales said.

Vargas is expected to be sentenced next week.

According to court documents, Vargas was on probation, for a separate conviction at the time of his arrest. Since he violated his probation, he’s required to serve the remainder of that sentence in state prison, before he begins his sentence in federal prison.

He’s asking a federal court judge to sentence him to 5-6 years in prison for the Family Dollar case.

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