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Rockland Gang Member's Accomplice Admits Smashing Cabbie With Beer Bottle

Four of Cruz's co-defendants (clockwise from top left): Guillermo Carrillo-Iraheta, Oscar Avalos-Cortez, Wilbur Barahona, Jostin Reyes
Four of Cruz's co-defendants (clockwise from top left): Guillermo Carrillo-Iraheta, Oscar Avalos-Cortez, Wilbur Barahona, Jostin Reyes Photo Credit: MUGSHOTS: Various jurisdictions

WALDWICK, N.J. -- A Waldwick man admitted Wednesday that he was the member of a gang who smashed a cab driver in the head with a beer bottle during a carjacking.

Arlyn Jowany Carrasco Cruz, 27, and five accomplices carjacked the driver of a 2008 Dodge Caravan in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2016, forcing him into the back of the vehicle, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said.

As they drove toward Waldwick, Cruz "struck the victim in the head with a beer bottle, he said.

The others dropped off Cruz and continued driving the cab to New York, where one of them sliced the cabbie's throat before dumping him on the side of the New York State Thruway near Woodbury, NY.

The taxicab driver survived.

A multi-agency task force that cracked the cases was made up of agents from the FBI and ICE, investigators from the New Jersey State Police, New York State Police and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, and members of the Ridgewood, Mahwah, Hawthorne and Waldwick police departments.

Including Cruz, five defendants in all have pleaded guilty to their roles in the carjacking, subsequent kidnapping, and an earlier bar robbery in Hawthorne.

Guillermo Carrillo-Iraheta, 20, and Juan Chiliseo-Vega, 21, both of Suffern, were sentenced to 150 and 168 months in prison, respectively.

Wilbur Jonathon Barahona, 22, of Ridgewood, and Jostin Reyes, 22, also of Walwick, await sentencing, including Cruz, whose sentencing hearing was scheduled for April 11.

Oscar Avalos-Cortez, 22, of New City, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to being the getaway driver in the Hawthorne bar robbery.

There is no parole in the federal prison system -- meaning they must serve just about all of their sentences.

Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, and Ridgewood and Hawthorne police for the work, which led to guilty please from Cruz and others.

Handling the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elaine K. Lou and Karen D. Stringer of Fitzpatrick's Criminal Division in Newark.

ALSO SEE: A purported gang member from Rockland County got a 39-month federal prison sentence Wednesday for his role in the robbery of a Passaic County bar two Christmases ago.

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