Final Defendant, Marcus Cox Sentenced for Role in Series of Robberies Targeting Marijuana Traffickers
EUGENE, OR (STL.News) The fifth and final member of a robbery crew that stole drugs and money from marijuana traffickers operating in Oregon in a series of violent robberies was sentenced to federal prison today, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.
Marcus Cox, 38, of Eugene, was sentenced to 110 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to interfering with commerce by robbery and using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The crew’s leader, Jorge Rubio, 37, of Reedsport, Oregon, was sentenced on October 29, 2020 to 121 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release for the same charges. Three other crew members have also been sentenced for their roles in the robbery scheme. Shawn Dunaway, 39, of Veneta, Oregon and Jason Brooks, 37, of Eugene were each sentenced to 101 months in federal prison. Antonio Vizcaino, 30, of Austin, Texas was sentenced to 71 months in federal prison. All three are subject to three years of supervised release after they complete their prison sentences.
“In a misguided attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement, Jorge Rubio and his gang of thugs preyed on people they believed would not report their crimes. In doing so, they callously threatened the lives of their targets and risked the safety of the entire community,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “These violent crimes are the direct result of an illegal and thriving marijuana black market. I commend the hard work and dedication of law enforcement for bringing this gang to justice.”
“These defendants targeted drug dealers while hiding in the dark underworld of illegal marijuana production and distribution. Using death threats and violent attacks against their targets, they stole weapons, tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in drugs,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.
According to court documents, in March 2017, law enforcement began investigating a group using assault rifles and other firearms to violently rob individuals set up to sell or purchase large quantities of marijuana or invest in marijuana operations in Oregon. On March 6, 2017, the crew robbed two individuals who had traveled from Austin to Eugene to purportedly meet with Rubio to discuss investing in a marijuana grow operation and to purchase marijuana for resale in Texas. One of the robbery targets, who had purchased pound quantities of marijuana from Rubio several times prior, traveled to Oregon with approximately $50,000 in cash.
Rubio arranged to meet the two individuals at a motel in Eugene. Shortly thereafter, Dunaway, Cox, and Vizcaino barged into the room with guns drawn and ordered the targets onto the floor. When one of the individuals tried to fight back, Vizcaino struck him in the head with his firearm. The assailants bound the individuals with zip ties and duct tape, and demanded to know where the money was located. They searched the room and found the $50,000 hidden under a seat cushion. At one point during the robbery, Dunaway told the targets that he was going to kill them. The crew left the individuals restrained in the motel room. After the targets freed themselves and summoned help, the target assaulted by Vizcaino was transported by Life Flight to Portland for medical treatment.
In August 2017, the crew orchestrated two separate robberies. First, the crew set up a group of individuals who sought to do business with Rubio. As part of the transaction, Dunaway instructed the individuals to follow him to a marijuana grow. On the way, Cox and an accomplice robbed the targets at gun point, seizing their cash, wallets, cell phones, and keys. The individuals were then abandoned in a nearby field after being warned not to cooperate with law enforcement.
In a second heist, Brooks posed as a marijuana buyer from New York who knew Rubio. Brooks agreed to purchase 200 pounds of marijuana and up to 15 pounds of a marijuana concentrate known as “crumble” from drug traffickers in Medford, Oregon for $260,000. Instead of purchasing the drugs, Brooks, Dunaway, and Vizcaino robbed the individuals at gun point in a Medford-area residence, stealing the drugs, a handgun, and the targets’ wallets and cell phones.
In September 2017, Dunaway and Cox robbed another individual who believed they were arranging a marijuana deal with Rubio. While meeting in a car, Dunaway beat the individual as Cox, from the backseat, held him in a choke hold at gun point and threatened to kill him. After Dunaway and Cox stole the individual’s money, phone, and 43 pounds of marijuana, the individual jumped from the moving vehicle to escape the assault. Dunaway later led police on a high-speed chase and crashed the vehicle. Dunaway and Cox tried to flee on foot, but were arrested nearby.
This case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Eugene Police Department, and Austin Police Department. It was prosecuted by Joseph Huynh; Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.