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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
For Immediate Release
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Man Charged With Attempted Murder of ATF Agents, Robbery, and Carjacking After Opening Fire During a High-Speed Chase on Interstate 4

Tampa, Florida–United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Francisco Cabrera (28, Dover) with armed robbery, armed carjacking, and attempting to murder federal agents. If convicted on all counts, Cabrera faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 28 years, up to life, in federal prison.

According to the indictment, between January 13 and 17, 2022, Cabrera robbed two Smoke Shops and one gas station in the Tampa Bay area. During each robbery, Cabrera showed victims a loaded magazine, inserted it into his pistol, and pointed the gun at the victims. On January 19, 2022, Cabrera approached a victim at a gas station and carjacked him at gunpoint. The same day, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and Lakeland Police Department officers found Cabrera and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. Cabrera fled at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour in heavy midday traffic, including on Interstate 4. While fleeing, Cabrera fired multiple shots from his driver side window at the agents and officers pursuing him. ATF agents returned fire, striking Cabrera, which ended the pursuit. No other individuals were struck by the gunfire.

Cabrera has been charged separately by the State Attorney’s Office (10th Judicial Circuit) with attempted murder of local law enforcement officers.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. 

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Lakeland Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diego F. Novaes.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.   

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