UPDATED: Charges Expected Against Man for Alleged Armed Robbery of Coachella Dispensary

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – A 34-year-old felon accused in an armed robbery at a marijuana dispensary in Coachella pleaded not guilty to robbery Thursday.

In addition to the robbery charge, Carlos Ernesto Vasquez of Cathedral City was charged with one felony count each of assault with a gun and burglary, according to court records. He additionally faces sentence enhancing allegations of using a firearm.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied the allegations Thursday afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Deputies responded around 2 a.m. on Jan. 11 to a report of a burglary at the business in the 86000 block of Avenue 54, according to Sgt. Thomas Anderson of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“During the investigation, it was determined the suspect forced his way into the business and when confronted by an onsite security guard, brandished a short-barreled shotgun,” Anderson said in a statement. “The security guard was able to escape unharmed and the incident was captured on video surveillance.”

The Coachella Community Action Team assumed the investigation and subsequently identified Vasquez as the suspect in the incident, according to Anderson. He was found in the 79200 block of Highway 111 in La Quinta on Tuesday, when he was taken into custody.

Vasquez remains held at the John J. Benoit Detention Center without bail and with an out-of-county warrant, according to inmate records.

He has previously pleaded guilty to firearm charges and to dissuading a witness, according to court records.

Anyone with information about the robbery was asked to call Deputy Esteban Molina with the CCAT at 760-863-8990.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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