WOONSOCKET – After arranging the sale of marijuana through a series of text messages, a teenage boy and two men from Burrillville were ambushed, robbed at gunpoint and beaten by an armed gang on River Street Monday night, police say.
Police later captured one of the alleged assailants – as many as five may have been involved – and arrested him on a string of felonies.
Hector Villegas-Alvarez, 32, of Woonsocket, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon; two counts of armed robbery; felony assault involving a weapon similar to a firearm; carrying a dangerous weapon during a crime of violence; and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.
The episode began when police responded to a report of an assault and robbery on River Street about 8:30 p.m. On arrival, officers say they encountered a 16-year-old male who had suffered a head wound and who was holding a T-shirt to his head to stanch the bleeding. He was later taken to Landmark Medical Center for treatment.
The youth was with two companions, 19 and 23 years old, all from Burrillville. The oldest of them later told police that they had driven to Woonsocket to sell an unspecified quantity of marijuana to parties with whom they had been in contact only through text-messaging. The time and the location of the sale were pre-arranged to take place somewhere on River Street.
When they were close to the spot, he told police, he and his friends stopped the car they were riding in near 270 River St. to double-check their location on a GPS. That’s when their car was suddenly surrounded by as many as five men, at least one of whom was wielding a firearm.
The same victim told police he was sitting in the back seat of the car with the window rolled down when one of the bandits held a silver handgun against his head, reached into his pocket and removed his cell phone. The robber then opened the car door, pulled him out of the vehicle and removed his wallet from his back pocket. The wallet contained at least $60 and personal identification cards.
Around the same time, another assailant was seen striking the 16-year-old Burrillville youth about the head with a blunt object, possibly a gun, according to police.
Officers scoured the neighborhood for suspects matching the description of the assailants and stopped Villegas-Alvarez moments later on Fairmount Street. Police said he was carrying a knife and a pellet gun. Villegas-Alvarez was later positively identified as one of the robbers by the victims, according to police reports.
Despite the circumstances they described, the victims did not report the larceny of any marijuana during the episode, nor was any recovered by the police. The victims were unable to supply a cell phone number for the intended buyers of the drugs, saying they couldn’t remember it. None of the self-described marijuana sellers was charged with any crime.
Meanwhile, Villegas-Alvarez is held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions pending a hearing in District Court on Jan. 30, according to the judiciary’s website.