Two local men plead guilty to burglaries after 15-month probe

·3 min read

Jan. 11—WOBURN — Two men from Methuen and Lawrence pleaded guilty to committing a series of burglaries and break-ins in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, authorities said,

Gabriel Estuardo Rojas, 28, of Methuen, and Manuel Jose Lopez, 24, of Lawrence, pleaded guilty to multiple charges in connection with seven burglaries and break-ins that occurred between Nov. 22, 2019 and Jan. 27, 2020, across 11 communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, according to a statement released by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Rojas pleaded guilty to four counts of unarmed burglary, three counts of breaking and entering a building in the daytime, breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony, two counts of receiving stolen goods over $1,200, receiving stolen property, possession of burglarious instruments and conspiracy, according to Ryan.

He was sentenced to five-to-seven years in state prison, followed by two years of probation, according to the statement.

Ryan said Lopez pleaded guilty to three counts of unarmed burglary, breaking and entering a building in the daytime, two counts of receiving stolen goods over $1,200, receiving stolen property, possession of burglarious instruments, and conspiracy.

Lopez was sentenced to three-to-four years in state prison, followed by two years of probation, according to Ryan's statement.

The case was resolved after a 15-month long investigation conducted by Ryan's office and state troopers assigned to her office working in partnership with the New England State Police Information Network and detectives from police departments in Andover, Belmont, Boston, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Haverhill, Lawrence, Malden, Methuen, Nashua, N.H., Natick, Needham, Newton, Pelham, N.H., Salem, N.H., Sharon, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Waltham, Wellesley, Weston, Westford, Wilmington, and Windham, N.H. and agents from the U.S. Secret Service, according to Ryan's statement.

On Dec. 12, 2019, Pelham police responded to a daytime burglary in progress at a home on Longpond Drive. The suspects fled into a wooded area close to the Massachusetts border before officers arrived. After the report, detectives were able to share information on the case with multiple agencies experiencing similar burglaries in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, Ryan said.

Detectives found surveillance videos and records linking both men to several burglaries, according to the statement.

"Police searched the defendants' residences pursuant to search warrants, recovering clothing, tools, a rented SUV believed to be used in the incidents, the defendants' cell phones as well as numerous articles of stolen property from Rojas's apartment. A search of their cellphones pursuant to a search warrant allowed the detectives to identify messages between the defendants and others allegedly related to a wide-ranging burglary conspiracy," according to the statement.

Ryan said investigators obtained search warrants for location data for the defendants' cell phones.

"This established that one or both of the defendants' cell phones communicated with cell towers close to the breaks at the time they are believed to have occurred, often traveling from the areas where the defendants lived to the sites of the break-ins," according to the statement.

As the investigation progressed, Rojas was arrested and charged with being in possession of a stolen motorcycle on May 21, 2020, by Nashua Police.

Following that arrest, investigators identified a self-storage unit he rented in Tyngsborough.

On July 16, 2020, investigators executed a search warrant and located property in the defendants' names at that storage unit. They also recovered three motorcycles that had been stolen in May and June of 2020 and approximately $5000 of stolen Snap-On tools, among other suspected stolen property, according to Ryan's statement.

Assistant District Attorneys Graham Van Epps and Doug Cannon prosecuted the cases.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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