The Houston Police Officers Union selected Robbery Detective Dane Garcia as its Investigator of the Month in the Dec. 1 general membership meeting.
Robbery Sgt. Ben LeBlanc detailed Garcia’s work leading to the arrest of two taco truck robbers..
Between Aug. 9 and 21, 13 aggravated robberies of taco trucks occurred within the city limits of Houston and the surrounding Harris County area. The robberies were committed by two suspects. One suspect, armed with a shotgun, would rob the taco trucks at gunpoint, and the other suspect would act as a getaway driver.
The duo of robbers was becoming increasingly violent and dangerous as the string of robberies continued; discharging their weapon in at least two of the incidents.
The robbery cases that occurred within HPD’s jurisdiction were assigned to Robbery Division Detective Dane Garcia. Detective Garcia got to work quickly and enlisted the help of the North Division’s Crime Suppression Team to assist in the canvassing of areas to obtain surveillance footage.
“In some of the footage you could clearly see the armed suspect’s face,” Sgt. LeBlanc explained. “Detective Garcia worked closely with other agencies, including the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Border Patrol, to attempt to identify the suspect from the surveillance images.
“His detective work paid off and he was contacted by a Border Patrol agent that received a facial recognition hit, identifying the suspect as Edenilson Benavides-Cornelio. Benavides-Cornelio had been previously deported four separate times, and he was again in the United States illegally at the time he committed the string of robberies.”
After filing a warrant for Benavides-Cornelio’s arrest, Detective Garcia coordinated surveillance operations with North CST on possible locations Benavides-Cornelio might be living. On Sept. 2, 2022, the surveillance operation paid off and Benavides-Cornelio was taken into custody without incident at an apartment complex on the north side of Houston.
While arresting the wanted suspect, officers also located one of the vehicles used in the string of robberies and identified the owner of that vehicle as a male named Alberto Cavazos. Cavazos had out of county warrants from Randall County, Texas that he was arrested for.
Detective Garcia interviewed both Benavides-Cornelio and Cavazos after their arrests. Benavides-Cornelio gave a full confession of his involvement in the robberies, but he would not give any statement regarding whether Cavazos was the second suspect involved or not. When Detective Garcia interviewed Cavazos, he denied being involved in any of the robberies.
Upon further investigation, Detective Garcia analyzed phone data from both suspects and found they did in fact act together in these robberies. On October 19, 2022, Detective Garcia flew out to Randall County, in Amarillo to interview Alberto Cavazos at the local county jail where he was being held on the unrelated charges.
After confronting Cavazos with the new evidence, he confessed to being involved in eight of the thirteen robberies. As of November 11th, 2022, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has accepted six charges of Aggravated Robbery on each suspect, and they are both still incarcerated at this time.
“Detective Garcia is a valuable asset to HPD’s Robbery Division,” LeBlanc said. “This is just one example of the great work he does on a daily basis in taking violent criminals off the streets of Houston.”