DALLAS — FBI investigators believe they've arrested a man responsible for at least 19 bank robberies in 2013.
Luis Delagarza, 59, of Farmers Branch is believed to be the "Mesh Mask Bandit" and was arrested for armed robbery of a Wells Fargo bank in Dallas in April. Delagarza is a well-known immigration rights activist.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, an FBI special agent interviewed an employee of the Wells Fargo robbed on April 22 who saw the bank robber's face as he entered and left the building.
The witness later identified Delagarza in a photo lineup. He has been among the most high profile leaders in the North Texas Hispanic community for years.
Delagarza helped oranize the Mega March that brought an estimated half-million people to the streets of downtown Dallas demanding immigration reform. He also founded Spanish-language television station TeleAmerica and owned an auto dealership.
Friends, however, say in recent years Delagarza lost the dealership and had other debts.
"He was a great example of activism, of defending with passion our community, of being on the right side of justice, and that's the Luis Delagarza that we all know," said Accion America president Carlos Quintanilla. "For a lot of people, he was very visible. He owned a television station. He was on radio. He was all over the place."
But ow he is in jail.
Delagarza made his initial appearance in federal court Friday, where U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez ordered he was to remain in federal custody. The next hearing is scheduled for June 25.
In the Department of Justice release, Diego G. Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division, said cooperation between law enforcement agencies led to the arrest.
“The identification of the ‘Mesh Mask Bandit’ by the FBI’s Bank Robbery Task Force was the result of collaborative local and federal investigation across nine cities,” Rodriguez said. “The arrest of this dangerous individual illustrates the effectiveness of task forces, the support provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and cooperation within the law enforcement community.”
In May, the FBI offered $20,000 for information leading to the Mesh Mask Bandit's arrest.