Lucio Cruz Benavidez, 26, of Sunnyside pled guilty in Yakima County Superior Court this morning (Tuesday) for his involvement in a string of armed robberies that plagued Sunnyside late last summer. Benavidez was scheduled to be tried this week, but pled guilty after the first day of the trial.
Benavidez was the ring leader in the robberies. The armed robberies occurred in Sunnyside at the Minute Mart, 301 S. 13th St., North Avenue Market, 701 E. North Ave., and TM Market, 417 Cemetery Road. He is also believed to have been involved in the Prosser Jackpot robbery. He will face charges in Benton County on that crime.
Benavidez's suspected accomplices, who are in custody, include Yvette De La Fuente, who reportedly drove the getaway car, and Ivan Rivera. Neither have been to court, but are expected to be in court later this week.
Police believe Benavidez held up the Minute Mart with Rivera. Benavidez robbed the North Avenue Market with the help of De La Fuente, say police. The third Sunnyside robbery, at TM Market, involved Benavidez and a man believed by police to be Tomas "Benny" Cerda Jr., who is still being sought by police.
Benavidez is facing 48 months in jail for his involvement in the robberies.