A Strathmore man pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to gun charges in a series of armed robberies that took place in Tulare and Kern counties, according to U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott.
Javier Beltran, 34, admitted in his plea that he used a gun to rob two liquor stores – Joe’s Westside in Porterville and Woodville Liquor in Woodville.
An indictment alleges that Beltran and accomplices committed at least seven armed robberies from May 2016 to January 2017. Then they went to Nebraska, where they committed two more robberies. They returned to California, where they committed three more armed robberies, the Department of Justice said.
All the robberies were committed in the same fashion, according to court documents.
First, they would steal a Chevrolet or GMC sports utility vehicle or truck manufactured between 2000 and 2006. They would push a hole in the lock on the door of the vehicle, open the steering shaft, and start the vehicle without a key.
Next, they would drive to a gas station, convenience store or liquor store where they would park the vehicle outside, and Beltran and other conspirators, wearing masks and gloves, would enter the store carrying guns. They would order the store clerk to give them money, then would steal money from the cash register or safe in the store. Finally, they would flee in the stolen vehicle, drive it a short distance and switch to another getaway vehicle, often leaving the stolen vehicle running.
Beltran will be sentenced on Jan. 14 and faces 32 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine, the department said.
Beltran’s alleged accomplice, Ulises Medina, has also been charged in the case and makes his next court appearance on Jan. 7.