Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Armored car robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 21, 1981
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: October 10, 1952
Victim profile: Oliver Flores, 29 (armored van driven)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Harris County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on March 23, 1993


Jobless and despondent over the death of his mother in his Caribbean homeland, Santana fatally shot security guard Oliver Flores, 29, during an armored car robbery in southeast Houston on April 21, 1981.

His accomplice, James Ronald Meanes, was executed in 1998. Dominican Republic officials tried to block Santana's execution.


Factual Background

On April 21, 1981, around noon, an armored van driven by Olivero Flores, who was accompanied by Dorothy Wright, pulled into the Sage grocery store parking lot on the Gulf Freeway in Houston, Texas, to pick up a deposit.

As Flores exited the van and walked around to the front of the store, the petitioner, Ronald Meanes, who is African-American, and his co-defendant, Carlos Santana, who is Hispanic, exited a car parked near the front of the store and opened the trunk.

Wright, still in the back of the van, then heard a "black voice" tell Flores to halt in a loud, demanding tone. Flores, who was carrying money bags in his left hand and had a weapon on his right hip, turned to face the men but made no move toward his weapon. As Flores turned, two or three shots rang out, and Flores fell to the ground, "flopping like a chicken." Although no one saw who shot Flores, it was determined that Flores was killed by a bullet from either a rifle or a pistol.

One of the men, armed with a pistol, then approached Flores, bent over him, and began firing shots at the van, about three seconds after the original shots. The same voice that Wright heard tell Flores to halt screamed, "bitch, open the door" at Wright, who was still in the back of the armored van.

After more shots were fired at the van, the men broke the glass on the driver's side of the van, and Meanes entered the van. Meanes then climbed over the driver's seat to the passenger's side, looked through the wire screen to the back of the truck where Wright was lying on the floor, poked a pistol through the screen, and said, with the same voice that she had heard before, "Get up bitch, right now or you're dead."

Wright then opened the back of the van and walked toward the store with her hands raised. The two men then left in the van, with the man with the pistol as the passenger.

Meanes and his co-defendant were captured soon thereafter in a cane patch a few blocks from the scene of the robbery. Upon questioning, Meanes revealed the location of the weapons used in the robbery.


Dominican Executed For Killing in Holdup

The New York Times

March 24, 1993

A 40-year-old Dominican was executed by injection of lethal chemicals early today for killing an armored car guard in a $1.1 million holdup.

The convict, Carlos Santana, was put to death just before 3 A.M. despite pleas for mercy from officials in his homeland. The Supreme Court rejected two late-hour appeals, one just minutes before the execution.

"Love is the answer, not hatred," he said in a final statement.

Mr. Santana's execution was the 55th in Texas and the 196th nationwide since the Supreme Court allowed states to resume capital punishment in 1976. Texas's total is the highest in the nation.

Mr. Santana, a former electrician, was condemned for his role in 1981 robbery of a Purolator Armored Inc. van in Houston.

Prosecutors said he had shot and killed a guard, Oliver Flores. Then Mr. Santana and James Meanes blew out the van's windows with shotgun blasts, unlocked its doors, ordered another guard out of the vehicle and drove off.

The two men were arrested a quarter-mile away within an hour.

Both were convicted and sentenced to death. No execution date for Mr. Meanes has been set.

Mr. Santana's lawyers contended that jurors had not been allowed to consider that he had been abused as a child and had lived in extreme poverty.



A foiled robbery attempt of a Puralator Armored Van left one person dead and several witnesses in shock. The victim was Oliver Flores, a 29-year-old security guard who worked for the company. He was shot in broad daylight while he sat in the van after making a stop in front of a Houston department store.

The suspects were Carlos Santana, a 21-year-old mechanic from the Dominican Republic and James Meanes, a 24-year-old unemployed Houston man.

Witnesses say that it was like a scene out of a movie. Two men in olive jumpsuits and baseball caps parked a blue car with no license plates in a handicapped space. They approached the van and started firing. After killing Flores, the two men bashed in the window of the van and ordered a female guard out of the van. She escaped the incident without injury.

Police say that Santana and Meanes planned the heist very well.

Police soon found the stolen van, however, the $1.1 million was missing. The men knew they needed a place to hide the stolen van. They were even equipped with a portable police radio scanner to keep tabs on the entire situation. During the chase, several eyewitnesses helped lead police to the suspects. They were first directed towards a metal shed in a wooded area in 9000 block of Carsondale. Det. Gene Sharp found the empty van inside.

Police searched the area and found several white cotton bags of cash that the robbers tried to hide. Another eyewitness explained to officers that he heard two men near his place of business. A helicopter was used to comb through the field that was nearby. The chase lasted about an hour after which, the suspects were arrested.

Carlos Santana and James Meanes were convicted and sentenced to death. Santana never denied involvement in the heist and killing, but mentioned that he was distraught over the death of his mother. Santana’s lawyers claimed that in addition to his emotional state, he was not notified that he could receive counsel from the Dominican Republic.

Santana’s native country established a New York-based committee called “Save the Life of Carlos Santana” in hopes of stopping the execution. The committee sent more than 500 letters to Gov. Ann Richards, but she could not be persuaded.

The execution was delayed for nearly three hours due to a late motion, which challenged the fairness of a clemency hearing. The Supreme Court turned Santana down at about 2:30 a.m.

Santana requested “Justice, Temperance, with Mercy” as his last meal. His last words were “Love is the answer, not hatred.” He also turned to his lawyer, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and said, “I love you guys. I will see some of you in the state of heaven. Bye.” Carlos Santana, 40, was pronounced dead at 2:54 a.m., March 23, 1993. He was the first person to die that year and the 55th in Texas since reinstating the death penaly in 1976.



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