FBI says it has captured ‘Merrimack Valley Bandit’

The FBI has arrested a Lowell man whom authorities believe to be the “Merrimack Valley Bandit,” a bank robber responsible for a string of armed heists in Merrimack Valley communities, officials said.

Raphael Beamud Jr., 32, is facing federal charges after the FBI arrested him in Salem, N.H., around 4 p.m. Tuesday, FBI spokesman Greg Comcowich said.

Beamud now faces charges only for the Feb. 21 robbery of the TD Bank on Broadway in Methuen, but he is a suspect in 12 other bank robberies and one convenience store robbery, Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said.

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“We had fingerprints from the robbery on Broadway,” he said. “On that one, we’re absolutely able to tie him in.”

At least 15 local, state, and federal agencies participated in a task force to catch the bandit, FBI spokeswoman Katherine Gulotta said.

Throughout the investigation, authorities were able to collect “a significant amount of data, including many videos and photographs,” of the bank robber, Solomon said.

The task force circulated photographs of the robber, he said. One of those photographs caught the eye of a North Andover detective, who allegedly recognized the suspect as Beamud, Solomon said.

Once the task force had a potential name for the robber, they were allegedly able to match the fingerprints left at the Methuen TD Bank heist with fingerprints they found for Beamud in a federal database, he said.

Salem, N.H., police detained Beamud just 15 minutes after the task force issued a warrant for his arrest, Solomon said.

In addition to surveillance video of the robber and the fingerprints found at the TD Bank, authorities also uncovered “substantial new evidence” incriminating Beamud Tuesday night, Solomon said. He said he could not give specifics until Beamud appeared in court.

Several search warrants are being executed today in relation to the case, he said.

Beamud is to appear in US District Court in Boston today, Gulotta said.

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