CONVERSE, Texas – The driver of an armored truck helped orchestrate the theft of more than $1.1 million on his second to last day on the job, an arrest warrant obtained Wednesday by KSAT Investigates shows.
Brian Martinez Rodriguez, 23, was charged last month with first-degree theft over $300,000 in connection with the brazen Dec. 29 heist that started in a Converse AutoZone parking lot and ended in a nearby neighborhood.
Martinez Rodriguez was driving a Garda armored truck when it stopped at the store at 8550 FM 78 to pick up money sometime after 8:30 a.m.
Martinez Rodriguez told investigators a man outside pulled a gun on him after his partner went inside the store, shoved him and assaulted him with the gun for about 20 seconds.
Martinez Rodriguez was then forced to drive to a neighborhood less than a mile away at Walnut Basin and Twincreek Farm, where “three Black males” who were armed and wearing masks filled two bins with bags containing money and then took off, he told investigators.
Surveillance footage, however, contradicted Martinez Rodriguez’s statements about the robbery, his arrest warrant states.
Footage provided to investigators by the auto parts store shows Martinez Rodriguez signaling to the man to enter the vehicle outside the store. The armored truck is then driven away within seven seconds of the man getting in, contradicting Martinez Rodriguez’s claim that he was assaulted for 20 seconds before driving away.
Additionally, security camera footage near the second scene on Walnut Basin showed one person in a hooded sweatshirt, not three men wearing masks, get out of a blue Hyundai Elantra and make two trips between the car and the armored truck, the warrant states.
Martinez Rodriguez also gave his employer, Garda, a different version of what happened than he gave investigators, the warrant states.
He had previously been scheduled to be terminated by the company on Dec. 30, a day after the heist, after he failed to obtain a license to carry a firearm.
Martinez Rodriguez was informed of the company’s decision to terminate him on Dec. 1 and was given 30 days’ notice.
A search of Martinez Rodriguez’s cell phone revealed on Dec. 1, he took photos of the inside of an armored truck, its manifest and an email from Garda alerting employees to be vigilant about recent armored truck robberies, the warrant states.
Converse police Lt. Jeff Shook said Martinez Rodriguez’s version of events fell apart within days of the staged robbery, leading investigators to believe he was involved.
“We learned a childhood friend of Brian’s was actually involved as well,” said Shook during an interview Wednesday afternoon.
That friend, Maurice Mercado, has also been charged in connection with the theft after investigators said he was the man who entered the armored truck at gunpoint in an effort to convince law enforcement that a legitimate robbery had occurred.
Mercado was taken into custody on Jan. 23 on the same first-degree felony theft charge, said Shook.
Investigators said after the robbery, Martinez Rodriguez’s personal vehicle was seen at a San Antonio apartment complex parked next to a Hyundai Elantra matching the description of the car seen at the second scene.
Mercado, on Jan. 15, was observed parking next to the Elantra and removing what appeared to be a stack of money from it, the warrant states.
A third suspect named in the warrant had not been charged as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Alamo Area Metro SWAT team on Jan. 26 executed a search warrant at a South Side home in connection with the Converse armored truck robbery.
The home in the 1400 block of Beverly Ann Street is identified as Mercado’s residence. Investigators found evidence inside the home related to its investigation, a Converse police spokesman said via email Wednesday.
Martinez Rodriguez remains at the Bexar County Jail on a $100,000 bond.
Booking information on Mercado was not available Wednesday afternoon.
“I am very confident we will make a third and final arrest regarding this incident,” said Shook.
Shook said if investigators recover any items purchased with the proceeds of the theft, they will be subjected to asset seizure.
He added that the case does not appear to be connected in any way to other armored truck robberies along FM 78 last year.