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An Albuquerque man and his 12-year-old nephew are accused of collaborating in five armed robberies over the past few months at Ross Dress for Less stores and other city businesses.
Gilbert Gallegos of the Albuquerque Police Department said detectives arrested Jason Roper at his home and his nephew at Jimmy Carter Middle School, where he is a seventh grader.
Roper, 43, is facing armed robbery, child abuse, tampering with evidence and other charges in the case. The boy is charged with armed robbery and conspiracy.
Gallegos said the boy was booked into the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center. It is unclear if either has an attorney.
According to police, Roper robbed the first three stores, while his nephew robbed the last two and tried to rob a third before an Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers tip led detectives to the pair.
Court records show the boy, one of four siblings, has been in the midst of a lengthy custody dispute between his parents, and his mother alleges his father has battled substance abuse since 2013. The father, according to court records, was arrested Sept. 1 on a probation violation after failing a drug test for fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Roper has spent most of the past two decades behind bars.
Court records show he was sentenced in 2000 to more than 11 years in state prison after pleading guilty in a shooting that injured two Sandia High athletes. Then, in 2010, Roper was sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison for robbing an Albuquerque bank.
Since his release in 2020, according to court records, Roper had gone back and forth between federal prison and supervised release for drug-related violations.
He was released again to supervised probation in 2022 but soon violated conditions on Sept. 12, when he tested positive for methamphetamine.
Police say by that time, the armed robberies had been ongoing for a month.
Albuquerque police responded on Aug. 14 to a robbery at the Ross Dress for Less at Coors and Irving NW, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. An employee told police a man robbed them at gunpoint, making them empty multiple registers.
A man matching the same description robbed two other Ross stores and police identified the getaway car as a Cadillac and a young accomplice, according to the complaint. Then, on Sept. 11, a young boy robbed a cashier at gunpoint at the Ross Dress for Less at Central and Atrisco NW.
Police said in the next week the same boy robbed a Walgreens and tried to rob a Taco Bell on the West Side but the cashier refused to hand over the money. Crime Stoppers offered a $10,000 reward in the case and a tip identified the man as Roper and the boy as his nephew.
Police said the pair matched the robbers’ descriptions and Roper’s Cadillac matched the getaway car, according to the complaint. Detectives went to arrest Roper and he requested an attorney and they went to the nephew’s school to speak with the boy and his mother.
Police said the mother told them Roper, who was an adopted relative, had recently come back into her life and was showing her son “bad things” like drinking and drugs. When shown video of the robberies, she said “how could I not recognize my son” and also identified Roper before breaking down in tears.
The boy refused to speak with police and asked for an attorney.