When two Santa Ana police officers rolled up to a mini mart on North Grand Avenue late one night recently, they thought they'd stumbled upon a minor crime pulled by underage drinkers everywhere: a beer grab and run.
But by the time the smoke cleared, a trio of alleged armed robbers of businesses in Santa Ana and Orange were behind bars.
It all started around 11:50 p.m. Friday, when the patrol officers responding to a service call watched as two men ran from the Grand Gas Mini Mart, 2231 N. Grand Ave., toward a vehicle that had a woman behind the wheel, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the Santa Ana Police spokesman.
When the cops told the pair to stop, one dropped a replica firearm and the other a kitchen knife, said Bertagna, who adds both men and the woman were taken into custody without incident and a wad of hundreds of dollars was recovered.
But police decided to see if the trio might have been up to more no good, so a call was put out to surrounding agencies. A hit came from the Orange Police Department, where officers reported a similar robbery had happened in that city about a hour before the Santa Ana incident, Bertagna said.
The Orange cops brought over a witness from the robbery at a 76 Gas Station at Chapman and Crawford, and that person positively identified the suspects, according to Bertagna.
Booked into the Santa Ana Jail were Victor Esteves, 19, of Anaheim, and Santa Ana siblings Julian Gabriel Iglesias, 25, and Melissa Marie Iglesias, 35. Each was held on suspicion of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit crime and felony gang crimes.
The investigation continues, and anyone with information is asked to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1.855.TIP.OCCS.