The 151-month terms are recommended in court documents for Carlos Adolfo Soto, 40, and Justin Wayne Caldwell, 31, for a robbery spree that began Jan. 25, 2017, and ended Feb. 21, 2017 at Metro PCS stores all over the county.
Robberies are normally charged in state court, but the U.S. Attorney's office filed federal charges that alleged they interfered with interstate commerce by threats and violence. The maximum sentence for both men is 20 years each.
Prosecutors said Soto would enter a store with either a machete, taser, or pellet gun that resembled a firearm and would point it at store clerks. Soto would demand cellular phones and cash. Caldwell often waited outside the store, serving as the getaway driver in a Mercedes.
Both were arrested Feb. 21 after Soto robbed the Metro PCS store at 909 Grand Ave. at 2 p.m. while Caldwell waited outside. Police had followed them from the College area and saw Caldwell park on Thomas Avenue while Soto got out and walked towards Grand Ave.
After the hold-up, Soto left with a plastic bag of loot and walked in the direction of the Mercedes. Police arrested Caldwell first. When Soto saw that, he ran down the street, and dropped the stolen merchandise. He ran though an alley and through residential areas before he was arrested.
San Diego Police officers recovered $155 in cash, nine cellular phones, and a pellet gun in the Pacific Beach robbery.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan set sentencing for Feb. 21. Both remain in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
"After striking fear in the hearts of San Diego area store clerks, these serial robbers were apprehended and charged due to the persistent efforts of dedicated local and federal law enforcement officers," said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman in a statement.
"This violent spree of robberies has come to an end," said John Brown, FBI special agent in charge in a statement.
The other stores robbed were located in Claremont, Normal Heights, San Marcos, Poway, Spring Valley, Nestor, and several stores on El Cajon Boulevard.
Soto was initially nicknamed the "Pinky Bandit" for a distinctive pinky finger, which protruded out from the whatever weapon he used, according to court documents.