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Man robbed six Arizona banks to pay off Mexican cartel debt, police say

The suspect would hand a note to bank tellers saying he owed money to a Mexican cartel and they would hurt his family.

PHOENIX — A man is in custody after he allegedly admitted to robbing six Arizona banks over the past month, telling police he was trying to pay off a debt owed to a Mexican cartel. 

Jeffrey Patterson, 45, is facing charges stemming from robberies at six Arizona banks as well as two Nevada banks, according to the FBI.

No one was physically injured during the bank robberies.

The first robbery occurred on Feb. 4 at a Wells Fargo Bank in Scottsdale. 

Below are the banks Patterson admitted to robbing in Arizona, according to the FBI:

  • February 4, 2021, Wells Fargo Bank, 15760 North Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ
  • February 10, 2021, Chase Bank, 13602 North 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ
  • February 16, 2021, Chase Bank, 4714 South Rural Road, Tempe, AZ
  • February 18, 2021, Wells Fargo Bank, 1004 West Chandler Blvd., Chandler, AZ
  • February 19, 2021, National Bank of Arizona, 5360 North La Cholla Blvd., Tucson, AZ
  • March 2, 2021, Chase Bank, 17140 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ

According to the criminal complaint, at the first robbery, Patterson handed a bank teller a demand note for $5,300 which mentioned the suspect's family and the cartel.

At the second robbery, Patterson allegedly handed a note to the teller that said, "I owe $9,300 to a Mexican cartel. They want it tomorrow or my wife and son will die. This is not a game and I am desperate. Loose bills, no bands and no dye packs. If they don't get this money EVERYONE will die. PLEASE help me. Sound the alarm once I leave. Once I deliver the money, I will turn myself in. I just want to save my family. The money now. You have 20 seconds of me staying nice, then I get angry."

Similar notes were produced at the other Arizona banks and Patterson robbed them all for a total of about $31,000.

Investigators found Patterson on March 2, and followed him when he robbed a Chase Bank on North Cave Creek Road in Phoenix that day. After the robbery, Patterson stopped at a Discount Tire Co. store and investigators took him into custody. 

Patterson's black airsoft pellet gun that was on him for most of the robberies was found in his vehicle. He also told police he bought a .22 caliber Ruger handgun while in Phoenix that he used committing the final bank robbery on March 2. Police found the gun in his vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, Patterson admitted to investigators that he robbed the six Arizona banks as well as two in Nevada. Patterson also told investigators that he owed money to a Mexican cartel and that he robbed the banks to pay off his debt. 

The complaint says Patterson told investigators he would then send some of the money to Mexico and then use the rest to live and buy drugs.

Patterson has been charged in the criminal complaint, filed in federal court.  

The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force handled the investigation. The task for is comprised of the Phoenix Police Department, Peoria Police Department, Scottsdale Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office FATE team, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the FBI.