DURHAM, N.C. — Four men who authorities said posed as police officers to commit robberies from North Carolina to New York were being held Monday night in the Durham County Detention Center on $1 million bonds.
Alexis D. Morillo, 23, of Reading, Pa.; Gabriele Pabon, 39, of Corona, N.Y.; Roberto Lopez, 23, whose address not immediately known; and Lameck L. Staton, 23, of Reading, Pa., are each charged with with robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping and impersonating a police officer.
"These gentlemen have extensive records up and down the East Coast," Durham County Assistant District Attorney Beth Koontz said, noting all four are wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Authorities said the men are suspected in a series of fake drug raids and assaults. In most of the cases, the suspects handcuff their victims before interrogating them to find drugs and money to steal.
One tactic they use on victims is immersing their heads in water to get them to talk, authorities said.
Durham County deputies were called to a house on Carpenter-Fletcher Road Sunday morning in connection with a reported robbery. When the deputies arrived, they saw three men running into the woods behind a house. A fourth man was in a parked vehicle nearby.
All four were wearing shirts with the word "Police" on them and had phony badges on chains around their necks.
Inside the house, investigators found people who had been handcuffed and had plastic bags placed over their faces. The bathtub was full of water, sources told WRAL.
"That caught our eye," said Lt. Stanley Harris of the Durham County Sheriff's Office.
Harris said the suspects could be the same people who killed Jose Castillo in October. Castillo was shot and his body was left in a burning truck on a Durham trail.
"We definitely want to take a long hard look because there were some similar features in our case," Harris said.
Investigators are also looking to see if the men are responsible for a home invasion in July. In that case, one of the victims was handcuffed, and the suspects were wearing fake police shirts and badges.