Tampa suspect in foiled Brink's heist blames fear of extortionist
By Associated Press
Published July 25, 2003
ORLANDO - A Brink's manager who allegedly came within minutes of pulling off the largest armored car robbery in history said he needed the money to pay off an extortion debt, according to an FBI affidavit.
Jose Alfaya, a branch manager in Tampa, told one of his cohorts "he feared for the safety of his family," Special Agent John C. Bonner Jr. wrote in the affidavit.
The FBI says Alfaya, 31, and accomplice Victor Moscoso, 34, were arrested in New Smyrna Beach Monday evening as they were about to remove a Brink's truck's cargo of $50.3-million.
They are charged with interfering with interstate commerce. Alfaya also is wanted in Hillsborough County for allegedly embezzling $20,000 from Brink's, Bonner said.
At a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Baker on Thursday, Alfaya waived a detention hearing while Moscoso was released on $50,000 bail.
Still being sought are two other suspects, allegedly the drivers of a pair of getaway vans.
"We've got leads on who they are," FBI Special Agent Jeff Westcott said, but would not release any other details.
Alfaya told Moscoso he owed $3,000 to a Miami man, and said the last time he was in South Florida, a picture of his family accompanied by a threatening note was put on his car.
Bonner said there was no proof of Alfaya's claim. The agent also noted that on Monday morning, Alfaya bought a green Ford Taurus - a duplicate of a Brink's company car - in Tampa for $3,000 cash.
The FBI believes Alfaya's crew were about 10 minutes from success when their plans were foiled by a policeman.
The affidavit gave this account:
The armored truck was returning to Tampa from the Federal Reserve Bank in Jacksonville, with money on board for delivery to banks throughout Central Florida. Alfaya called in sick Monday and drove to New Smyrna Beach. He was joined there by the three other men, who drove from Miami in two white vans. They began following the armored truck as it made stops in Daytona Beach.
As the truck neared the State Road 44 exit on Interstate 4, one of the vans pulled up alongside and Alfaya, in uniform, motioned to the armored truck driver to pull over. The driver complied.
Alfaya told the four guards he was doing a spot inspection. He ordered them to turn over their guns and wrote down the serial numbers. He handed one gun to Moscoso, dressed in a Brink's uniform, and put the other three in a briefcase.
A volunteer state trooper saw the truck and the two white vans on the side of the highway about 7:30 p.m. and stopped.
Alfaya showed John Manus his Brink's ID and said the truck had transmission problems, said Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Miller. Manus left.
Alfaya, Moscoso and the four guards got into the armored truck and headed east on State Road 44. Moscoso missed the turn where the men planned to unload the money. After he made a U-turn, one of the guards set off the alarm. Moscoso pulled off on a dirt road, where New Smyrna Beach police Sgt. John Kosorok came across the truck about 8:45 p.m.
At gunpoint, he ordered the men to surrender and they did.