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2 Charged in $2M+ Luxury Watch Robbery Spree

One of the timepieces was a Richard Mille worth over $500,000.

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Federal authorities have charged two men in connection with a series of robberies of luxury watches in the New York City area.

The pair robbed jewelers in New York City, on Long Island, and in New Jersey, authorities allege.

The New York Daily News referred to the robberies as “stickups.” In one case, a victim was shot and survived.

Victor River, 30, and Johan Araujo, 40, were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, attempted robbery, attempted extortion, interstate transportation of stolen property, money laundering, and firearms offenses.

The watches taken were were a total of more than $2 million. One of them was a Richard Mille valued at more than $500,000.

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More from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York:

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Dermot Shea, Police Commissioner for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment charging VICTOR RIVERA, 30, and JOHAN ARAUJO, 40, with conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, attempted robbery, attempted extortion, interstate transportation of stolen property, money laundering, and firearms offenses. ARAUJO was arrested on July 23 and presented and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker. RIVERA was previously charged in an Indictment in November 2020 and is currently in custody. This case is assigned to United States District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged in the Indictment, the defendants committed a series of armed robberies and attempted robberies of jewelers and other owners of luxury watches in and around New York City. In one of these robberies, a victim was shot. Thanks to the outstanding work of the NYPD and Special Agents of our Office, time ran out on the defendants, who now face federal charges for their alleged crimes.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “The charges show that while criminals often believe they can operate in plain sight with apparent impunity, the NYPD and our law enforcement partners exist to shatter that notion and bring those responsible to justice. I thank our colleagues at the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York for their dedication and hard work building this case and ensuring these two alleged dangerous criminals will be held to account.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed last Friday in Manhattan federal court and based on statements made in court proceedings and filings[1]:

From at least in or about October 2019 up to and including November 2020, RIVERA, ARAUJO, and others known and unknown agreed to rob victims of luxury watches worth up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The watches owned by victims targeted in the robberies included Richard Mille, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe as part of the jewelers’ businesses based in Manhattan’s Diamond District. RIVERA used guns to commit several of the robberies, and in one robbery, shot a victim, who survived.

The 11 robberies and attempted robberies included the following:

1. On October 3, 2019, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed a jeweler in Long Island City, New York, of, among other things, a Richard Mille watch worth over $250,000.

2. On October 25, 2019, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed a jeweler in Jamaica, New York, of, among other things, a Rolex watch worth over $150,000.

3. On December 10, 2019, RIVERA, ARAUJO, and a co-conspirator robbed a jeweler in Brooklyn, New York, of, among other things, a Patek Philippe watch worth over $160,000 and a diamond necklace worth over $77,000. During the robbery, a firearm was shown to the victim.

4. On January 14, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed of a jeweler in Rego Park, New York, of, among other things, a Richard Mille watch worth over $500,000.

5. On February 16, 2020, RIVERA and ARAUJO robbed a jeweler in Jamaica Estates, New York, of, among other things, an Audemars Piguet watch worth over $28,000.

6. On February 20, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed an individual in Long Island City, New York, of, among other things, an Audemars Piguet watch worth over $125,000.

7. On June 11, 2020, RIVERA and ARAUJO robbed a jeweler in Brooklyn, New York, of, among other things, a Richard Mille watch worth over $148,000. During the robbery, a firearm was shown to the victim and a victim was shot.

8. On July 6, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed a jeweler in Hoboken, New Jersey, of, among other things, a Richard Mille watch worth over $81,000. Following the robbery, RIVERA and others transported the stolen watch from New Jersey to New York.

9. On July 20, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator participated in an attempted robbery of a jeweler in Queens, New York, attempting to steal a Richard Mille watch worth over $180,000.

10. On August 2, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed an individual in the vicinity of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, of, among other things, a Richard Mille watch worth over $250,000. During the robbery, a firearm was shown to a victim. Following the robbery, RIVERA and others transported the stolen watch from New Jersey to New York.

11. On October 27, 2020, RIVERA and a co-conspirator robbed a jeweler in the vicinity of Woodbury, New York, of, among other things, an Audemars Piguet watch worth over $26,000 and assorted jewels and gold links worth over $60,000. During the robbery, a firearm was shown to a victim.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Police Department and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Ms. Strauss also thanked the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Englewood Cliffs Police Department, the Weehawken Police Department, and the Nassau County Police Department for their assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Mathew Andrews, Andrew K. Chan, and Celia Cohen are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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