Storming Las Vegas: How a Cuban-Born, Soviet-Trained Commando Took Down the Strip to the Tune of Five World-Class Hotels, Three Armored Cars, and Millions of Dollars
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On September 20, 1998, Jose Vigoa, a child of Fidel Castro’s revolution, launched what would be the most audacious and ruthless series of high-profile casino and armored car robberies that Las Vegas had ever seen. In a brazen sixteen-month reign of terror, he and his crew would hit the crème de la crème of Vegas hotels: the MGM, the Desert Inn, the New York—New York, the Mandalay Bay, and the Bellagio. The robberies were well planned and executed, and the police–“the stupids,” as Vigoa contemptuously referred to them–were all but helpless to stop them. But Lt. John Alamshaw, the twenty-three-year veteran in charge of robbery detectives, was not giving up so easily. For him, Vigoa’s rampage was a personal affront. And he would do whatever it took, even risk his badge, to bring Vigoa down.
the history of Las Vegas, had recovered more than $100,000, confiscated a lethal cache of firearms and explosives, obtained a confession from one of the gunmen, assembled valuable forensic evidence for Dave Roger, prevented a catastrophic attack on a large armored truck—and the robbery lieutenant in charge of the investigation found himself under investigation. No one would have blamed the earnest, conscientious Alamshaw had he asked for time off to heal his wounds, or perhaps sulked around the
sports jerseys, body armor, clothing, ski masks, gloves, explosives, and every imaginable item used in the crime spree—especially in the Ross and Bellagio robberies. “Would your fingerprints be on any of those?” “I don’t know—no, nothing, nothing! I don’t have anything to do with that.” Collins mentions the Bellagio surveillance video. “I can recognize Jose. I can recognize Oscar,” the detective says. “And the third guy looks a lot like you.” Suarez sticks to his story. “I promise you, I don’t
routine of life at the Clark County Detention Center at 330 South Casino Center Boulevard, two blocks south of the famous Golden Nugget hotel and casino, the powers of Las Vegas want maximum punishment and no-quarter vengeance for the brazen two-year crime spree. The old mob founders of Las Vegas had a saying: “Robbing a casino owned by the boys wasn’t in the cards.” Now the new corporate owners, ruthless in their own way, and with considerably more money invested on Las Vegas Boulevard, intend
from the harbor there was a staging area where the buses were taking people. They had a family area, an area for street people, an area for educated people, and one compound of lean, hard-looking men with all kinds of fierce, wild tattoos. These were the criminals; I realized this right away. I knew some of these men, too. They were prisoners. Some were murderers and rapists. I bluffed my way past the patrol and started talking to a man who stole cars for a living and had been sent to prison for
in a small trailer. Skehan writes in his police report: “At this time, I asked Saucy if he would go and get Jose Vigoa and ask him to talk to us, since he was in charge of looking after the storages. I observed Saucy walk back up to the area where Jose Vigoa lives, enter the storage area, and go into the trailer. I observed the subject later identified as Vigoa, in and around that trailer, talking to Saucy. Both men disappeared into the trailer and did not come back out. I walked up there and