3rd of 3 accused in home invasions, kidnappings, torture, shootings, homicide over 20-day span convicted

Ivan Santiago

MILWAUKEE -- The third of three men from Milwaukee charged in a series of home invasions, kidnappings, torture, shootings and a homicide -- crimes that took place within a 20-day span -- between Oct. 11 and Oct. 31, 2017 was convicted Wednesday, May 15.

A jury found Ivan Santiago, 24, guilty on the following counts:

    He was acquitted on two counts.

    Ivan Santiago

    Sentencing was scheduled for July 19.

    Marco Felipe

    Two others were previously sentenced to prison.

    Marco Felipe, 25, of Milwaukee pleaded guilty to three charges in October 2018:

      In court on April 25, Felipe was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and nine years' extended supervision -- with credit for 538 days' time served.

      Rodolfo Pantojas-Juarez

      Rodolfo Pantojas-Juarez, 26, of Milwaukee, in February 2019 pleaded guilty to three charges:

        On March 22, he was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years' extended supervision.

        It was zip ties, spent casings and witness interviews that led to the charges against them.

        According to the 20-page criminal complaint, the three men were accused of being associated in some way with the following crimes in Milwaukee between Oct. 11, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2017:

          According to prosecutors, police found a 9mm handgun at Santiago's home. Police said spent casings at five scenes were connected to the crimes -- one of those near 32nd and Lincoln. Police said Santiago fired the gun found at his home at a victim, who suffered four gunshot wounds, but survived.

          Shooting at 32nd and Lincoln

          Police also connected the gun to a homicide scene at 7th and Becher. Humberto Varela-Caballero, 30, died after prosecutors said Santiago and Pantojas-Juarez killed him while committing an armed robbery.

          Rodolfo Pantojas-Juarez

          Homicide near 7th and Becher

          Jair Varela

          "He was just like my dad. He took care of my family," said Jair Varela, Varela-Caballero's brother at Zizi's Pizza, where he worked alongside his late brother. "I don't wish this to no one. It's so hard."

          Varela said his brother was killed as he brought food home to his pregnant girlfriend.

          Humberto Varela-Caballero

          Santiago was also connected to gun casings found at a shooting scene involving two Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) employees.

          Prosecutors said Felipe was also connected to a number of crimes, and said he admitted to his involvement in two different home invasions in a 12-day window.

          So why do it? Several witness statements indicated Pantojas-Juarez owed money to a Mexican cartel, and had one-and-a-half months to pay back his debts.