Two Killed in Warehouse Robbery

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In a night that veered drastically from theft to tragedy, Mount Vernon, New York, became the backdrop for a calamitous heist that ended in gunfire and grief. 

Federal prosecutors detailed how a planned robbery at an illicit cannabis warehouse spiraled out of control, leaving an employee and one of the assailants dead. The chaos unfolded late Tuesday night, March 19, 2024, casting a long shadow over the city’s attempts to combat the illegal drug trade and violence.

“The alleged reckless behavior of the defendants highlights a profound indifference to public safety and presented a substantial risk to the community,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said as he emphasized the seriousness of the matter. His words painted a vivid picture of the peril that ensued when as many as 15 armed individuals, with intentions anchored in greed, clashed in a deadly confrontation.

The warehouse, nestled in a suburban corner of Mount Vernon, was rumored to house upwards of $8 million and a stash of cocaine, a lure too tempting for the group of assailants from the Bronx. Ilario Contreras, Jerpi Diaz-Feliez, Jhoan Diaz-Feliz, Victor Jimenez, and Joseph Perez now find themselves facing severe charges, including conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery and conspiracy to engage in drug trafficking, with potential sentences of up to 20 years behind bars.

Despite these arrests, the search intensifies for one man still at large, identified by authorities only as Marcos. He is believed to be connected to the attempted theft, 

The robbers’ attempt to subdue the warehouse employees and customers, pushing them to the back of the building at gunpoint, took a dramatic turn when resistance met their force. A warehouse employee, caught in the exchange, sustained multiple wounds and was rushed to Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital, only to be pronounced dead.

Surveillance footage from the Bronx and the warehouse itself led to the swift identification and arrest of the five men implicated in this deadly exchange. The use of an AR-15-style rifle and 9 mm spent shell casings found at the scene further underscored the lethal intentions behind the robbery attempt.

In the aftermath, the community of Mount Vernon and beyond grapples with the realities of illegal drug operations and the violence they spawn.  Police Commissioner David Gibson made his determination evident: “We aim to deliver a strong message to individuals who plan on executing egregious acts within our community. We intend to collaborate with local, state, and federal partners to ensure these individuals face the maximum legal consequences.”

The names of the two deceased, one an employee caught in the crossfire, the other a robber, remain withheld as families are notified.

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