» GALVESTON

A series of violent robberies in Galveston in recent weeks was the work of three groups of men apparently working independent of each other, police alleged Friday.

The Galveston Police Department on Friday announced more arrests and charges against seven people suspected in some of the 14 robberies on the island since December.

Dolly John Monroe Hughes, 35, of La Marque, was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated robbery with a firearm, according to the police department.

Oshea Coleman, 26, of La Marque, was arrested Friday and charged with burglary of a building, evading arrest and assault causing bodily injury, according to the department.

Police had previously announced the arrests of Roderick Harbin, 22, and Douglas Zeigler, 19, both of Texas City. Harbin has been charged with aggravated robbery with a firearm and engaging in organized criminal activity, and Zeigler has been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and aggravated assault, police said.

Police on Friday also arrested three 15-year-olds and charged them all with aggravated robbery with a firearm, according to the department.

The two groups — the older men and the teenagers — are suspected in nine robberies that occurred in Galveston over the past month, police department spokesman Capt. Joshua Schirard said. Police did not immediately identify which robberies each group was suspected in.

The list of businesses robbed in the past month includes convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants. In many of the reported robberies, two or more armed men entered a business while wearing masks and demanded money from cashiers or other employees.

Police suspect a third group of men, who have not yet been charged, participated in another string of robberies on the island, he said.

There have been 14 reported robberies in Galveston since the beginning of December, according to the police department.

The crimes appear to be part of a recent increase in armed robberies across the state, Schirard said.

“The problem isn’t just us,” he said. “It’s happening all over the county, all over Harris County. We’re not really sure why we’re seeing such an increase.”

On at least two occasions, robbers have fired guns. On Dec. 28, a woman was shot during a robbery inside La Cazuela Cocina, a restaurant at 1508 39th St. She survived, and the next day two teenagers were arrested in connection with that robbery.

In response to the sudden and unusual rash of crimes, the department created a task force to investigate the robberies, Schirard said.

“We wanted to do what it took to stem the flow,” Schirard said.

The task force made its first arrest, Harbin, on Tuesday and the next day arrested Zeigler during a SWAT raid at a house in Texas City, police said. Police did not say how the other five people were taken into custody.

The arrests have also led police to seize some drugs — including ecstasy, prescription pills and marijuana — and two stolen guns, Schirard said.

About two dozen Galveston police officers, along with investigators from eight other agencies, participated in the robbery investigations and arrests, Schirard said.

More charges and arrests are expected, Schirard said.

All four adult men were in custody at the Galveston County Jail on Friday evening, according to jail records. Their bonds were set between $100,000 and $500,000 apiece, according to the police department.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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