Fbi Seeks Clues To Identity Of ‘High Country Bandits’

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Sketch of getaway driver

A duo the FBI once thought was responsible for only Arizona bank robberies is now believed to have committed four out-of-state robberies as well as eight in-state.

Dubbed the High Country Bandits for a series of robberies in Northern Arizona beginning in late September, the duo even hit a Payson bank just before Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 25, the pair hit the Compass Bank, at 613 S. Beeline Highway, around 3:30 p.m., taking an undisclosed amount of money. From there, the duo has bounced around Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, hitting up banks in rural locations near closing time.

Most recently on Feb. 5, the pair robbed a bank in Cortez, Colo.

In all 12 robberies, a man believed to be between 30 and 40 years old, enters the bank, asks everyone to put their hands in the air and then points a black semi-automatic handgun at the bank tellers, demanding money, said Manual Johnson, special agent with the bureau.

Tellers place money in the man’s bag, he tells everyone to lie on the ground and “kiss the floor.” The suspect then leaves the bank with a second suspect believed to be in his 30s.

In some of the robberies, the pair is seen leaving the bank on a green or maroon ATV with the second suspect driving.

The first suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male, between 30 and 40 years old, 5’3” to 5’6”, 130 to 160 pounds, brown or gray hair with a possible mustache or beard and wearing dark clothing, gloves, baseball cap, sunglasses, a facemask that covers the lower half of his face, and a bomber-style leather jacket. His voice is described as being deep, rough or raspy.

The second suspect is described as white or Hispanic male in his 30s that is roughly 6’ tall and weighing between 150 and 175 pounds. As seen in the sketch, he has straight black hair.

The following credit union and banks have been robbed:

• Bank of the West, 1945 Highway 260, Heber on Sept. 8.

• First National Bank of Durango, 351 Bayfield Center Drive, Bayfield, Colo. on Sept. 22.

• Arizona Central Credit Union, 1948 S. Woodland Village Blvd., Flagstaff, on Oct. 14.

• Country Bank, 3044 North Glassford Hill Road, Prescott Valley, on Oct. 30.

• First Community Bank, 19390 Highway 314, Belen, N.M. on Nov. 10.

• Compass Bank, 613 S. Beeline Highway, Payson, on Nov. 25.

• Chase Bank, 5305 S. Superstition Mtn. Dr., Gold Canyon, on Dec. 3.

• Compass Bank, 781 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop, on Dec. 4.

• Wells Fargo Bank, 12140 N. Dove Mountain Blvd., Marana, on Dec. 15.

• Bank of the San Juans, 1710 Main St., Durango, Colo. on Dec. 22.

• Sunwest Bank, 822 N. Humphreys, Flagstaff, on Jan. 25.

• Community Banks of Colorado, 1438 E. Main St., Cortez, Colo. on Feb. 5.

The FBI and local law enforcement partners are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the High Country Bandits. Contact the nearest FBI office or the Phoenix FBI at (602) 279-5511 with any information.

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