'Zip Tie' bandits indicted on nearly 40 counts
Eugene Scott
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 4, 2007 03:55 PM

Five defendants - four of them illegal immigrants - in the "Zip Tie" bandit crime spree were recently indicted on nearly 40 counts, announced County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Sunday. Thomas discussed the strong connection between illegal immigrants and the Valley's crime rates at a press conference.

"We continue to have a serious violent crime problem in Arizona, which is directly related to our border situation," Thomas said.

The men are accused of robbing four Mesa grocery and discount stores for nearly five months and face nearly 40 counts.

The victims, including a young child, were held at gunpoint and handcuffed with zip ties. The defendants were arrested last month.

The illegal immigrants are being held without bond, Thomas said, and several of them were previously deported before returning to the Valley. The plea bargain is not an option for serious violent crimes, he said.

"We continue to see the link between our crime rate in the Valley and illegal immigrants," Thomas said. "Now that is a politically incorrect fact, but it is a fact. And they say facts are stubborn things."

The charges that Kalib Andrade-Mondragon, 21; Juan Jose Mendez, 32; Humberto Ochoa-Alvarado, 30; Juan Felipe Torres-Torres, 25; and Javier Robledo-Rodriguez, 26 face include armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and misconduct involving weapons.

Thomas said the men, some of who are repeat offenders, would do severe crime at a facility in the county. They are currently in a county jail.

"We are going to pursue them very vigorously," Thomas said. "If sentenced somewhere else, we can't make sure they do their time."

The County Attorney attributed the country's overall increasing violent crime rate to illegal immigration. Local agencies are responsible for addressing the area's crime and illegal immigrant problems since the federal government has failed to do so, he said.

"We need to redouble our efforts to tackle both facets," Thomas said. "We have to take action here in Arizona and we will continue to do so - at least in the County Attorney's office."

Valley police departments have a "duty" to aggressively address the area's illegal immigrant concerns, the county attorney said. Too many departments have policies that treat smugglers more harshly than illegal immigrants, he said.

"Everybody else just arrests smugglers. There shouldn't be special laws for illegal immigrants," said Thomas, of police agencies other than the Sheriff's office. "I do not believe all police agencies are doing what they can."