Two Mazatzal Casino workers in Arizona who moved in on the cage of their own employers on July 17 shortly after midnight, brandishing firearms and shooting multiple rounds, are now in federal custody. Miraculously, no one was hurt in the attack.

Casino heist

Two armed men enter the Mazatzal Casino on July 17th. (Image: AZ Central)

Men in Black

The two men alleged to be involved were tracked down and arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of the $650,000 taken, according to federal court records, some $480,000 has now been recovered, with no word on the status of the remaining dough.

FBI agents arrested 31-year-old Ryan Pearson and 32-year old Armando Ochoa this week for their alleged roles in the robbery. Officials say the pair fired several rounds from their weapons as they tried to intimidate casino employees — their own co-workers — into handing over cash.

Both men have been charged with Hobbs Act Robbery and Use of a Weapon in a Crime
of Violence. “Hobbs Act” refers to a 1946-enacted federal anti-extortion statute that was originally designed to give federal authorities the maximum authority under the Commerce Clause.

Details Left Out

Other than revealing that they’re employed by the casino, investigators have said nothing about the men or what their jobs were at Mazatzal, which is located on the Tonto Apache Indian reservation near Payson.

No mugshots of the men have been published, although the FBI did release surveillance footage of the pair entering the casino, guns in hand and their faces masked.

Despite taking place on an Indian reservation, the trial will be held in federal court.

Inside Heists: When Casino Employees Go Rogue

Pearson and Ochoa may have gone about it in a more brazen manner, but it’s not uncommon for employees to take part in an “inside job” at their own casinos.  

Crown Casino, Melbourne, 2013 – A casino employee in charge of watching security cameras was accused of relaying information to a high-roller, which helped him take the casino for $32 million. 

Stardust Casino, Las Vegas, 1992 – A casino cashier at the Stardust didn’t use any guns. He simply put $500,000 into his bag and walked right out the door.

Soboba Casino, Riverside, CA, 2007 – A casino employee tied up a co-worker with duct tape and used a fake pistol to rob the house of $1.5 million.

Wynn Macau, 2018 – A former dealer in their VIP room who helped facilitate the theft of $6.1 million in casino chips was apprehended along with his uncle and three additional casino employees the very next day.