DETROIT • There was a method to the robberies: One crew member, usually a woman, would knock on the door.
Then others, donning bandanas and brandishing firearms, would storm the home when someone answered, and corral its occupants.
While one robber restrained the victims with duct tape and threats of violence, prosecutors said, another would ransack the home in search of valuables.
On Monday, a US district court judge in Detroit sentenced the leader of the Castro Enterprise, a group of robbery crews that terrorised Asian and Indian-American home owners in several states across the country for three years, to 37 years in prison.
The leader, Chaka LeChar Castro, 44, of Houston, believed that Asians and Indians did not trust financial institutions and were therefore more likely to keep money and gold at home, according to evidence presented at the trial.
She recruited new members, researched potential victims, deployed her robbery crews to specific home addresses and earned a percentage from each of the lootings, according to court documents.
Under Castro's direction, the Castro Enterprise, which the authorities said consisted of more than 10 people, robbed at least 22 families in Georgia, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Texas from 2011 to 2014.
Castro was arrested in Texas in December 2014. Indicted by a federal grand jury on April 1, 2015, she was convicted in June after a five-week trial of one count of racketeer-influenced and corrupt organisations conspiracy, four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and four counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence, according to the US Department of Justice.
According to prosecutors, Castro orchestrated the crews' trips so that multiple home invasions could happen in a series of days. The stolen goods were then transported to Texas. The crews usually consisted of three to four members, according to the indictment.
Each member had a designated role. One was in charge of the crew on the road. Another was responsible for renting a vehicle and sometimes a hotel room. There were a couple of women in the enterprise who would knock on the doors and then act as lookouts while two or three others raided the home.