3 men charged in armed home invasion near Everett

Prosecutors allege the trio targeted other Asian American homes across Snohomish, Whatcom and King counties.

Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD — One October night, a man awoke in his bed to face two masked men, each pointing a silver pistol at him.

One of the gunmen, wearing a black Scarface hoodie, ordered him to lie face-down on the bed as they ransacked his home before stealing an estimated $5,000 in valuables.

After 30 minutes, the two men, later identified by police as Cesar Aguirre Canchola, 33, and Cristian Alfredo Tovar Tovar, 21, let him go, fleeing out the front door and into a waiting white Ford Edge.

Investigators believe the Oct. 5 break-in was one in a string of orchestrated home invasions in the greater Seattle area, according to charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court last week.

Prosecutors charged each — Aguirre Canchola and Tovar Tovar — with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, unlawful imprisonment and three counts of residential burglary. A third man, Pascual Cazarin Ochoa, 30, was also charged with residential burglary for allegedly driving the other two suspects to the homes.

Prosecutors alleged the men carried out heists in Snohomish, King and Whatcom counties, targeting Asian American homes. The trio believed Asian households would have “large sums of cash and jewelry store in their homes,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe wrote in an email in November.

The suspects found potential targets by looking up names on open-source databases like whitepages.com and 411.com, O’Keefe said.

Security footage from several home invasions showed a 2019 white Ford Edge and 2011 Ford Escape in the area, according to charging papers. The cars were reportedly registered to Cazarin Ochoa.

In September, a man reported someone ransacked his home in the 17000 block of 38th Avenue SE near Lynnwood and stole about $80,250 in cash, jewelry, designer handbags, wallets and other valuables, according to charging papers.

No one was home during the burglary. The man noted someone had “intentionally moved” a security camera near the back door.

In the home invasion Oct. 5, deputies arrived at a home on Meridian Avenue S, south of Everett, to find a back window had been broken. Security footage showed two men walking into bedrooms, according to charging papers. One carried a flashlight and a pistol, while the other carried a pry bar with an emergency window breaker. According to the video footage, the two entered two upstairs bedrooms and walked out the front door with items.

Meanwhile, security cameras captured a white Ford Edge circling the neighborhood before and after the robbery, sheriff’s deputy Matthew Barker wrote in a police report.

The car was registered to Cazarin Ochoa, who was “ruled out” as one of the home invasion suspects, Barker wrote.

Detectives got a warrant to put a GPS tracker on the Ford, and it was planted Oct. 15, according to the police report.

Nearly two weeks later, deputies tracked the Ford from Burien to 21st Avenue SE in Everett. The vehicle reportedly circled the neighborhood before going to a nearby Winco, where the car stayed for the night. Barker wrote the man may have been “scouting out” the area. Deputies stopped trailing the car but continued to track it.

The same night, residents reported two masked men “hiding in the bushes” in their backyard, according to Barker’s report. The suspects reportedly got “spooked” and left without attempting a break-in.

Around 6 a.m. Nov. 6, detectives observed the car with the tracker in Lynnwood. About 30 minutes later, police were notified of a burglary at a nearby home in the 17000 block of 34th Place. Officers and deputies stopped the Ford Edge near the Lynnwood Costco and arrested the three suspects.

In interviews with investigators, Aguirre Canchola and Tovar Tovar admitted to being at all three break-ins, according to charging papers. Cazarin Ochoa admitted to driving the other two suspects.

None of the men had a felony record. The sheriff’s office, however, reported two of the suspects were “connected” to recently arrested members of an organized crime group from South America.

Aguirre Canchola and Tovar Tovar remained in Snohomish County Jail with bail set at $500,000. Cazarin Ochoa posted bail of $200,000 four days after his arrest, jail records show.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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