Real Name: Victor Manuel Gerena Jr.
Wanted For: Armed Robbery
Missing Since: September 12, 1983
Details: Twenty-five-year-old armored car guard Victor Gerena was a trusted and hard-working employee at the West Hartford, Connecticut, office of the Wells-Fargo Express Company. He was a father of two and was engaged to be married. On September 12, 1983, he arrived at work and asked his supervisor if he could park a car inside the building near bay 5. He claimed it was his friend's car and he did not want it damaged or burglarized. His supervisor was reluctant, but approved his request. The car was a full-size 1973 Buick LeSabre, capable of carrying large loads.
That day, Gerena and his partner made their scheduled rounds, collecting more than $3 million in currency from local banks and businesses. The Wells-Fargo vaults already held more than $4 million. By 9pm, Gerena, his partner, and their supervisor were the only ones in the armored car terminal. He asked for his partner's gun, saying that he would check it in for him. Instead, he went into his supervisor's office, pointed his own gun at his supervisor, and ordered both men on the floor. He handcuffed his supervisor's arms behind his back and taped up their mouths. He then used duct tape to tape their feet and bind them so that they could not move. After that, he put jackets over their heads so that they would not be able to see what was happening. Finally, he injected them with a substance (later determined to be a mixture of aspirin and water), saying that it would make them fall asleep; however, it had no effect of them.
Gerena began loading $7 million in cash, bag by bag, from the van and the terminal into his car. The process took about an hour and a half to complete. Once he was done, he honked his horn, possibly signaling an unknown accomplice outside, and opened the bay door of the terminal. He and the accomplice then left in the car, leaving his co-workers unharmed. They later freed themselves and contacted the police. Eighteen hours later, Gerena's car was found abandoned eight miles away. Police found a shotgun and pistol inside, but no money.
Investigators later discovered that Gerena was part of the Puerto Rican terrorist group "Los Macheteros". They were fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States. Following the robbery, the group moved Gerena and some of the money to Mexico. Shortly after that, he was sent to Cuba, while the money was sent to Puerto Rico. The group used some of it to purchase a surface-to-air missile. On October 30, 1983, they launched it at FBI headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fortunately, little damage was done and nobody was injured.
In August 1985, fourteen people were arrested in Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, and Texas, for their involvement in the robbery. However, Gerena, believed to be living in Cuba at the time, escaped capture and has not been seen since. Filiberto Ojeda Rios, one of the leaders of "Los Macheteros" and the alleged mastermind behind the robbery, is also still at large.
Gerena has brown hair and green eyes, weighs 165 pounds, is 5'6", and has a one-inch scar and a mole on his right shoulder blade. He may be hiding in Cuba or the United States. His birth date is June 24, 1958; he would now be in his mid-sixties. He should be considered armed and dangerous.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on Special #1 on January 20, 1987 in a FBI fugitive roll call. It was covered in more detail in a full segment on the February 9, 1994 episode. Gerena was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Wanted. Several other members of the group "Los Macheteros" have since been arrested in connection with the robbery. The most recent one was Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, who was arrested in Puerto Rico in 2011. Rios was killed in an FBI shootout in 2005.
Gerena is the last fugitive of the robbery that is still at large. He was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List from 1984 until 2016, longer than any other fugitive. A $1 million reward is still being offered in the case. FBI agents believe he is hiding somewhere in Cuba.
- Victor Gerena on Unsolved.com
- Victor Gerena on Wikipedia
- Victor Gerena on the FBI Website
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- Did armored service guard break under temptation? - September 14, 1983
- Fiancee of $7 Million Robbery Suspect Is Arrested - September 15, 1983
- Suspect in $7 million heist 'sick of working' - September 15, 1983
- Wells Fargo Theft, 3 Months Later - December 11, 1983
- 'Model youth' heads FBI most wanted list - June 24, 1984
- Postcard proves Wells Fargo suspect 'alive and well' - September 26, 1984
- Puerto Rican group claims responsibility for 'Big Sleep Heist' - April 3, 1985
- 12 'Terrorists' Held in Heist of $7 million - August 30, 1985
- Accused robbers nabbed - August 31, 1985
- Cuba is accused of aiding Puerto Rican terrorists - August 31, 1985
- Prosecution Presents Closing Argument in Wells Fargo Case - March 21, 1989
- Closing Arguments In Wells Fargo Robbery Case - March 22, 1989
- Puerto Rican terrorist group leader convicted in absentia of robbery - May 6, 1992
- Motives still debated, 10 years after heist - September 12, 1993
- The Untold Tale Of Victor Gerena - November 7, 1999
- Suspect in $7 million robbery arrested after decades as fugitive - May 11, 2011
- $7 million bank heist: Suspect nabbed in '83 case - May 11, 2011
- 1 fugitive remains in $7 million robbery in 1983 - May 14, 2011
- Shift in U.S.-Cuban relations could see extradition of three American fugitives - December 19, 2014