Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Joel Varela Linares, age 25, of Washington, D.C., to 13 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit the robbery of a person he believed to be a drug dealer, for using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, on April 11, 2014, Linares and his co-conspirators Shawn Delonte Allen and Evan Anthony Peek-Austin, entered the victim’s residence and awaited his arrival.  As the victim arrived home, Allen approached the victim from behind and forced him at gunpoint into the residence.  After zip-tying the victim’s hands, Linares, Austin, and Allen questioned the victim about the location of drugs and drug proceeds.  The robbers thought the victim was in possession of heroin imported from Guatemala or proceeds from heroin sales. Linares, Austin, and Allen each had a handgun and threatened to kill the victim if he did not produce the drugs or drug proceeds.  While questioning the victim, Allen brandished his gun.  When the victim claimed that he did not have drugs or drug proceeds, Linares placed a knife to the victim’s neck and Allen struck the victim in the head with a handgun. Allen also heated a metal spoon and placed the hot spoon on the victim’s wrists, demanding the victim tell them the location of the drugs and money.

Linares and his co-conspirators move the victim to the basement where Austin secured the victim’s feet with plastic zip ties. Allen again heated a metal spoon and placed the hot spoon on the victim’s hands and face, while Linares, Austin, and Allen continued to demand that the victim tell them the location of the drugs and money.   The victim finally told Linares and his co-conspirators that his American friend had the drugs and money and the robbers allowed the victim to call his friend, who was, in fact, a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations.  The victim arranged to meet with the agent and told Austin and his co-conspirators that his friend would have approximately 10 kilograms of heroin.

Linares and Allen instructed the victim to drive them to the meeting location in Beltsville, Maryland.  Linares told the victim that Austin would remain at the victim’s home to wait for the victim’s family and that Austin would harm the victim’s family if the victim did not comply with their instructions.  Austin later met up with Linares, Allen, and the victim at the meeting location.  Once the HSI agent arrived, the victim met the agent and told him that Linares and his co-conspirators were going to kill him.  As the HSI agent and the victim left, Allen got out of the car and brandished his gun.  Linares entered another vehicle and pursued the agent’s car until he was stopped by Prince George’s County Police officers.  Meanwhile, Austin and Allen fled the meeting location in a Honda Prelude and were pursued by law enforcement.  They eventually ran away and Allen was subsequently apprehended by police.  Austin approached two people in a pick-up truck, brandished his gun and carjacked the truck.  Austin drove away in the truck, but was shortly trapped in the area by a gate. Austin then got out of the truck and ran.  Austin was later caught by police.

A subsequent search of the Honda Prelude, which was registered to Austin, recovered $5,000 in cash, a black ski mask, black hat, black pellet gun, black single strap backpack containing zip ties and white gloves, and a wallet containing Austin’s identification documents.

Shawn Delonte Allen, age 40, of Waldorf, Maryland and Evan Anthony Peek-Austin, age 39, of Landover, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the robbery.  Allen was sentenced to 150 months in prison and Peek-Austin was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly O. Hayes and Daniel C. Gardner, who prosecuted the case.