For Immediate Release
Illegal Alien Sentenced to More Than 20 Years for Carjacking and Firearms Offenses
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz, 30, of Mexico, was sentenced today to 247 months in prison on carjacking and firearms offenses, announced R. Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Wayne Dixie Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division; Colonel Glenn McNeill, Commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol; and Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s court proceedings, on the evening of August 10, 2016, CMPD officers located a GMC Sierra truck whose passengers were suspected of being involved in multiple shootings. Court records show that Paz was the driver of the truck, and his co-conspirator, Alan Israel Chavez-Cruz, also an illegal alien, was the front seat passenger. There were four other passengers in the back of the truck. Court records show that when CMPD officers attempted to stop the truck, Paz sped off and attempted to flee. During the flight, the truck was involved in two traffic collisions, however Paz did not stop following either collision.
According to court records, after the truck became inoperable Paz pulled it into the driveway of a residence on East W.T. Harris Boulevard, in Charlotte. Paz then exited the truck holding a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Cruz also got out of the vehicle holding a black 9mm handgun. The remaining four passengers fled the scene. Court records show that Paz and Cruz decided to steal a vehicle in order to flee the scene. Cruz approached the homeowner, R.B., placed his handgun against R.B.’s stomach, and demanded the keys to his nearby 2016 Mazda. R.B. told Cruz that he did not have the keys on him and Cruz rummaged through R.B.’s pockets but was unable to find the car keys.
Paz then attempted to carjack a 2003 Ford Ranger traveling southbound on W.T. Harris Boulevard. E.H. was driving the vehicle and L.B. was the front seat passenger of the moving Ford Ranger. Paz fired his shotgun at the Ford Ranger’s window, and was yelling for E.H. and L.B. to get out of the truck. Birdshot from the shotgun discharge struck the Ford Ranger’s windshield, causing bodily injury to both victims. E.H. continued driving the vehicle down W.T. Harris.
Next, Paz and Cruz approached a parked 2001 Chevrolet Silverado truck. As he approached, Paz fired his shotgun in the air. Cruz, with his handgun visible, told the passenger of the vehicle, K.T., to leave and K.T. fled on foot. With Paz as the driver and Cruz in the front passenger seat, the two men fled the scene.
CMPD officers located the two men. After attempting to stop the vehicle several times, the stolen Chevy Silverado drove erratically and in excess of the speed limit. While traveling down Highway 16, Cruz disassembled his handgun and discarded the parts out of the window and along the side of the road. The vehicle entered Catawba County, and Paz eventually lost control and struck a power pole that left the truck disabled.
After the collision, Cruz got out of the passenger side of the truck and was arrested immediately. Paz got out of the truck holding the 12-gauge shotgun, which he pointed at surrounding officers. Three CMPD officers discharged their weapons, striking Paz who continued to struggle while the officers were trying to arrest him. Ultimately, law enforcement apprehended Paz.
Ulloa-Paz pleaded guilty in November 2017 to conspiracy to commit carjacking, two counts of attempted carjacking, carjacking, and discharging a firearm during, in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence. In March 2018, Cruz was sentenced to 147 months in prison. Both men will be subject to deportation proceedings upon the completion of their federal sentence.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the ATF, CMPD, and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for their investigation of the case.
The prosecution was handled by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) Erik Lindahl. Mr. Lindahl is a state prosecutor with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, and was assigned to serve as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
# # #