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Criminal’s Handbook: Dimwitted Suspects Commit, Film, And Narrate Armed Robbery in Sweetwater County

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The wheels of justice turn slowly, the old adage goes.

But maybe not in the case of a recent armed robbery outside of Rock Springs.

A dimwitted duo from Sweetwater County is under arrest for an armed robbery they are alleged to have committed last week involving a passenger in their car while they traveled on Interstate 80.

The evidence compiled by the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s office would appear to be pretty damning.

The department reports that not only was the entire robbery caught on video but it was narrated by one of the suspects.

“One of the suspects was alleged to have robbed the victim at gunpoint while the other video-recorded and narrated the robbery in progress,” Deputy Jason Mower said.

“After pleading with them for his life, the suspects pulled off of the interstate and allowed the victim to get out of the car before getting back onto the interstate and driving away,” the deputy said.

The office reports that detectives successfully recovered some of the items from the victim during the robbery and also seized the firearm that investigators believe was used during the robbery.

Now Benjamin Martinez, 24 of Green River and Nicholis Ray Roberson, 24, of Rock Springs are both in jail.

The sheriff’s office say they will face charges of aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and kidnapping and theft.

No trial date has been set. To further aid in the legal process, some observers speculate the duo will perform an interpretative dance of the armed robbery.

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Florida Man Steals Rawlins Police Car While Handcuffed; Eludes Cops For 70 Miles

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on handcuffs and how, unless you happen to be Houdini or Mel Gibson, you should pretty much wave the white flag if wearing those accessories.

Unfortunately for Florida man James Estes, he’s not Houdini nor Mel Gibson and that handbook does not exist.

It turns out Estes was a wanted man for a parole violation in California when he was riding a motorcycle through the town of Rawlins.

Everything was good except he didn’t have any visible registration.

The Rawlins Police spotted the infraction and attempted to pull Estes over.

As happens so often in these stories, the suspect had a difference of opinion about being pulled over and opted to leave instead.

Interstate 80 was available so Estes jumped on that motorway thereby increasing the number of law enforcement officials who got involved and decreasing the number of available turnoffs.

At mile marker 189, Estes apparently thought he had a better chance of outrunning law enforcement on foot. So he abandoned the motorcycle and began the race.

Turns out, he was wrong in that assessment as quickly after, Estes was tackled and placed under arrest.

Normally, this is where the story ends. But James Estes is from Florida. He was just getting started.

Now, in the back of the patrol car, Estes was contemplating his options. He could stay arrested and face the music. Or he could treat it like a Daily Double on Jeopardy and bet it all for glory.

Florida man chose option 2.

His first action was to slide his handcuffed arms to the front of his body. Check.

Then, he crawled through the center partition of the vehicle to the front seat where — bonus — he discovered the car was running. How could he stop now?

With no one in the car but him, he decided to take the police car out for a drive.

Forget thwarting the police with a banana in the tailpipe. Estes actually managed to steal a police car while handcuffed. And then he drove 70 miles down Interstate 80 in the stolen police car.

At mile marker 119 in Sweetwater County, Estes somehow lost control of the stolen vehicle. Upon stopping, he was able to get out, however, and gave a footrace another shot — even though handcuffs would likely make him slower than last time — not to mention, he would likely look like a buffoon.

Second verse. Same as the first.

Tackled again. Arrested again. 

But now with many, many, many more charges. Not only in Carbon County but in neighboring Sweetwater County.

If found guilty, Florida man will likely be a Wyoming man for some time to come.

All suspects are presumed innocent (even this guy) until proved guilty.

*NOTE: This story has been corrected. An earlier version reported that Estes allegedly obeyed one law at one point during the ordeal. That is not the case. He allegedly broke that law as well. In fact, he never came close to obeying any law whatsoever. We regret the error. — Ed.

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Casper Man Demonstrates Why Running From a Police Dog Is Not Smart

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on police dogs and why running from them is rarely a good idea.

Sadly, for Cheyenne man Joseph Girone, there is no chapter or handbook, as he learned the hard way when he was being arrested on Thursday for a felony warrant at a local diner.

The Cheyenne Police succeeded with Girone’s arrest thanks to the help of K9 Pavel, who took him down almost immediately after the dog was let loose.

It’s unfortunate for him that he didn’t see a video shot by a Casper Rotary Club earlier this week demonstrating how police dogs do their jobs. It would have been much less painful for him.

Rotary Club Assistant Governor Albon Shaw donned a giant Michelin-Man-like padded suit to demonstrate the effectiveness of police dogs.

The idea for Shaw to be the guinea pig came from his wife, he said, who was attending the Rotary Club meeting where a police officer was talking about how police dogs sniff out drugs.

She then told the Rotary Club that her husband would love to show how police dogs take people down. Then she informed him.

“My wife ‘volun-told’ me I was going to do it,” Shaw told Cowboy State Daily.

Banjo, the Casper Police dog, couldn’t wait to go after Shaw. 

In about one second the rotarian was down and the Casper PD was pulling the dog off of him.

“They are trained to never let you go,” Shaw said. “Until they are told to let you go, they are trained to not let go until they are called off.”

As for the experience, Shaw said he experienced a range of emotions from “nerve-wracking” at the beginning when he saw how anxious the dog was to go after him to “exhilarating” after it was all done and the dog was released from his body.

He said any exposure from the demonstration is a positive because it gives attention to the hard work of Casper’s law enforcement community.

“I feel our law enforcement is often under-appreciated and they put so much work and training into keeping our communities safe,” he said. “The dogs are great ambassadors for our police department.”

It’s too late for the Cheyenne man who was taken down Thursday, but Shaw had advice for future suspected criminals.

“I would strongly discourage ever, ever running away from a police dog,” Shaw said. “I don’t care how fast you are or how athletic you think you are, the dog is going to kick your butt.”

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Men Arrested in Uinta County For Hauling Fentanyl, Meth, And Cocaine

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminals’ handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on the importance of driving the speed limit when hauling illegal drugs.

It’s always preferable to go the speed limit, but when getting pulled over could mean facing decades in prison, it might be advisable to follow the rules of the road.

In other words, when breaking the law, it may be smart to be a good citizen and not break more laws.

Sadly for Edras Pantoja-Villafranca and Luis Ramon Medina-Sauceda, there is no chapter or handbook.

According to documents filed last week  in the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, everything was going fine for the duo as they were happily traveling across the state of Wyoming when they were clocked at 89 mph in a 75 mph zone.

That’s usually just a speeding ticket. 

But there were a few clues that gave drew the suspicion of a Uinta County Sheriff’s deputy.

There was the issue of all the front windows of the suspect’s car being down. In 20-degree weather. Which allowed giant billowing marijuana clouds to escape the cab.

Then there was the issue of the valid drivers’ license. The driver didn’t have one. Neither did the passenger, but the driver has to have one.

Then there was the issue of the pound of fentanyl, half-pound of cocaine, and 12 ounces of methamphetamine in the vehicle.

Perhaps it was a misunderstanding and Pantoja-Villafranca and Medina-Sauceda thought the Wyoming State Legislature legalized these substances this past session. (The Legislature did not).

Perhaps it’s all circumstantial evidence.

Perhaps, but then there’s the issue of the text messages on both of their phones discussing drug sales.

Both men are 100% innocent, of course, until proven guilty.

They are awaiting a trial on their charges in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.

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Man With Suspended License, Felony Amount of Cocaine Attempts to Elude Police; Fails Miserably

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on the importance of tires.

Unfortunately for Denver, Colorado, resident Willie F. Zanders, neither the chapter nor the handbook exists.

Tires are considered an important accessory for vehicles. 

That’s not to say a vehicle can’t drive without tires, but the experience is improved with them. Especially when driving in excess of 100 mph.

Zanders discovered that when he decided to drive through Wyoming with a felony amount of cocaine, a suspended license and a firearm — even though as a person convicted of a felony, he should not have had one.

It’s reasonable to think that when driving under those circumstances, adhering to the speed limit would be a preferred strategy.

Zanders opted for another strategy, however. A strategy of going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Going 14 mph over the speed limit will usually get you pulled over unless you are driving to Denver where the speed limit is somewhere between Daytona 500 and the speed of sound. (Unless you are in the far left lane where someone with their turn signal on is going 45.)

Regardless, when the Wyoming Highway Patrol requested Zanders pull over for the speeding infraction, Zanders declined.

Zanders, again, pursued a different strategy. He floored it.

As he was driving north on U.S. Highway 85 near Hawk Springs, he didn’t really have a lot of options.

Torrington was ahead — which was his only option.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol alerted the Torrington Police Department of the speeding truck and the Torrington PD set up spike strips — which Zanders blew through at more than 100 mph.

This is where Zanders got a crash course in the importance of tires.

His vehicle riding now on rims, Zanders kept the gas pedal floored and was doing great until an Arby’s sign in Torrington jumped out in front of him, stopping Zanders and his truck immediately.

At that point, unlike countless other criminals featured in our Criminal’s Handbook series, Zanders surpassingly did not take off running.

By not continuing to elude law enforcement, Zanders limited the charges against him to fleeing to elude, felony possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), driving on a suspended license, speeding, and possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a felony.  

Of course, Zanders is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Man Crams 300 Pounds of Marijuana in Car & Tries to Transport it Across Wyoming; Fails Miserably

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a chapter on the strategy of trying to outwit drug-sniffing dogs.

Especially if you’ve crammed 300 pounds of marijuana into your car.

Unfortunately for one unnamed individual who was stopped at the Sapp Brothers Truck Stop in Laramie County, neither the handbook nor the chapter exists.

Also, unfortunately for this individual, Laramie County Sheriff’s K9 Arie didn’t have a cold.

All Arie had to do was walk around the car and conduct a “free air sniff” when he knew he wasn’t dealing with some small timer like Jeff Spicoli in a van.

Instead, the ensuing search yielded 11 giant identical duffel bags all packed the same way and full of pot — totaling some 296.5 pounds.

It wasn’t like the suspect didn’t try to hide the smell. He wasn’t smoking a 13-pound burrito-looking joint like Cheech and Chong did in the movie “Up In Smoke.”

He wrapped the marijuana in heat-sealed plastic packaging and odor resistant bags.

But it wasn’t a thorough job. The public information officer for the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect was sloppy.

“Even though the dope was in heat-sealed plastic packaging, there was loose marijuana under the packaging,” Deputy Jeffery Barnes told Cowboy State Daily.

“Arie hit on the driver’s side door almost immediately after Deputy Grimm got him out of the patrol vehicle,” Barnes said.

Then it was picture time. The suspect got a free mugshot and accommodations provided by the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office. 

Arie, on the other hand, posed triumphantly in front of the 300 pounds of weed and then was rewarded with a ball.

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Drunk Man Puts Drunk Friend in Bucket of Stolen Front-End Loader And Drives To Hospital; Gets Arrested

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a section on Driving Under the Influence and why it’s not advisable to do so. 

Especially if you’re driving a stolen front-end-loader with your drunk friend in the bucket and your license has been revoked for 15 years because you’ve had three prior DUIs.

Unfortunately for Lincoln, Nebraska resident Jordan Evans that handbook nor the chapter exists.

For Evans, it was not a pleasant way to end the day. If anything, his evening sounded like a scene from the movie “The Hangover” — except that he didn’t get away with anything.

According to reports, Evans was just taking his 40-year-old friend to the emergency room because he was injured.

Problem is, Evans was drunk and the method of travel he chose was a front-end-loader that he didn’t own. And he put his injured friend in the bucket — which kind of draws attention to yourself.

Then there was the problem of parking. Once Evans pulled up to the ambulance bay and dropped his friend off, he left the front-end loader there.

That blocked ambulances from getting in which meant the hospital called the police.

When the police arrived, they found a bottle of booze in the front-end loader and the inebriated Evans.

Unable to explain his way out of anything, Evans was charged with felony theft, a fourth-offense DUI, and driving during a 15-year license revocation.

All requests for dashcam footage of the conversation between Evans and the police officers were sadly ignored.

Evans, of course, is innocent until proven guilty.

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Man Attempts to Elude Law Enforcement By Driving Through Oozing Mud-Filled Field; Fails Spectacularly

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, there should be a chapter on the strategy of trying to elude law enforcement by exiting a paved road and then attempting to drive through an ocean of mud.

Sadly for a yet-to-be-named driver who was arrested in the middle of a field near Douglas on Monday, that handbook and chapter do not exist.

Not that the driver would have a better outcome either way, but when the Wyoming terrain is considered — especially in early spring — there are obstacles to overcome when pursuing freedom. 

Snow and mud, which are in plentiful supply this time of year, generally are not helpful for fleeing suspects.

In this case, the area had recently received nearly 3 feet of snow, and warm weekend temperatures had turned the fields into oozing sinkholes of sludge.

This particular driver, who was suspected of drunk driving, didn’t seem to grasp his surroundings when being pursued on Interstate 25 by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Preferring not to pull over when a trooper made the request, the suspect opted to cross the median and drive down the wrong way of the Interstate before hopping onto State Highway 26.

Near Dwyer Road, the suspect employed the leave-the-paved-road-and-try-driving-through-a-mud-filled-black-hole strategy.

Upon immediately getting his car stuck in the mud, the suspect thought he might have better luck if he took off on foot — in the mud.

Upon immediately getting tackled in the mud, the suspect was subsequently arrested.

During the arrest, the suspect added a guaranteed felony charge to his laundry list of charges by trying — unsuccessfully — to disarm the trooper.

Of course, the suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Due to this incident’s nature, the Division of Criminal Investigation has been requested to assist with this investigation. As with standard practice, the troopers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation.

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