An eight-month bank robbery spree ended Wednesday with the arrest of a man believed to be behind more than 25 holdups from Niagara Falls to Lackawanna.
Michael Mitchell, 21, the man investigators believe was behind the recruitment of at least eight to 10 other bank robbers involved in his loose band of thieves, was taken into custody after an extensive manhunt by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force.
He was taken into custody without incident and without injury, Brian P. Boetig, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Buffalo, said at a news conference Wednesday.
Mitchell, a Buffalo resident who has been on the run for weeks, was arrested on Ideal Street near East Lovejoy Street shortly before noon Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials said they could not discuss Mitchell’s role in the bank robbery spree until after he is arraigned and the criminal complaint detailing his involvement is unsealed by the courts.
Mitchell, who is expected to face several bank robbery charges, is suspected of recruiting young people and then instructing them on how to carry out a holdup.
Sources close to the FBI’s investigation said three of those young people already have admitted their role in eight separate bank robberies.
Law enforcement officials say the first indication that the robberies were linked was the similar language used on notes handed to bank tellers.
They also claim the crimes involved young people, including at least one young woman, who may have been manipulated by Mitchell into doing the robberies.
Most of the 25 or so robberies took place in Buffalo, but there were a handful in Niagara Falls and Lackawanna as well.