Immigration Activist Arrested for Serial Bank Robbery

It's stunning, really, that an activist for people who break the law stands accused of breaking the law. Whodathunkit?

Hispanic leaders in North Texas are stunned that an accused serial bank robber was once one of their own. Luis Delagarza was arrested for the April robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank, but an FBI Task Force also identified him as the ‘Mesh Mask Bandit’ whose hit 19 banks since New Year’s Eve. The ‘Mesh Mask Bandit’ robbed most of his banks in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch-North Dallas area. But they are also just a few blocks away from Delagarza’s home in Farmers Branch, in a community where he made a name for himself pushing for immigration rights. His arrest has left fellow activists, such as Carlos Quintanilla, in shock.

“Luis Delagarza robbed banks, I guess, to deal with his demons, and that’s a sad story,” Quintanilla told CBS 11. Latinos in North Texas may remember Delagarza as an organizer of protests and marches for immigration rights, like one in Irving in 2007. “So he did some amazing things as a community leader, as a businessman, and all of that was just poisoned by him becoming a serial bank robber,” according to Quintanilla.

Delagarza's been a curious case for a few years now, but that never kept the activist community from embracing him.

Latino activists he worked with considered him “one of the most dynamic local leaders.”  He was admired across the border as well, having been invited to the inauguration of President Felipe Calderon in 2006.  He also worked with the administration of former Mexican President Vicente Fox on immigrant advocacy issues.

Reports indicate his legal woes started in 2005 when he pled guilty to failing to file a corporate tax return.  Others say it started before that, when he was operating the local Spanish-language TV station and failed to pay his employees.  Most recently he was charged with shoplifting over $200 worth of items from a Dallas Wal-Mart.

Maybe Mr. Delagarza is just looking to expand his activism. Currently felons in prison aren't allowed to vote in Texas. It's time to work for change from the inside!