The Money Train Heist was a robbery committed by the Strike Team of the Armenian Mob's west coast money laundering operation called the Money Train. The robbery took place during the season 2 finale, but the ramifications would continue to haunt the Strike Team throughout the remainder of the series and be a major contributor to their eventual downfall and demise.
Season 2 Edit
While undercover, Vic and Shane heard about a rumored money laundering operation called the Armenian Money Train which allegedly sent their dirty profits back to Armenia to be laundered. Upon investigation further, the two discovered the site of the operation and decided to rob it.
The two immediately told their teammates about their plan. While Ronnie was enthusiastic, Lem was more skeptical, fearing that if anything should go wrong that the team would have "the law chasing [them] on one side, the mob on the other'. His concerns seemed to bring the rest of the team down to earth. Vic later decided against the robbery unless all four strike team members were on board, stating that it was too dangerous to have someone around who knew all the details without sharing the legal risk. Eventually, Shane convinced Lem to proceed with the heist to allow Mackey the means to support his autistic kids.
However the Armenian's were careful, often switching schedules and locations in order to avoid scrutiny from the authorities and avoid raising any suspicions. Additionally, the operation was heavily guarded. Eventually Mackey decided once again against the robbery, stating that the team did not have enough time to plan and that he wasn't willing to take any risks.
As season 2 proceeded, the Strike Team was forced to deal with multiple threats including sadistic Mexican gangster Armadillo Quintero and Internal Auditor Lanie Kellis. Armadillo burned Ronnie's face on a stove (in retaliation for Vic doing the same to him), and Laney began attempting to find dirt on the team, even releasing former Assistant Chief Ben Gilroy in order to link them to the Terry Crowley Murder. Ronnie recovered from his burns, and became a vocal supporter of the robbery. Realizing that the team needed a safety net and feeling guilt over Ronnie's injury, Vic agreed to the heist.
Eventually the team managed to determine the location of the money train by tracing the Armenians' cell phone signals. They also created a plan that would minimize the risks which involved two members waiting in a dumpster that was placed inside the perimeter of guards a few hours before the operation began. On the day of the robbery, Shane and Lem set up inside the dumpster as planned, but Vic is otherwise occupied with chasing a potential murderer. Before the robbery starts, one Armenian shoots another and during the robbery some Armenians manage to get away only to be stopped by Vic who had arrived at the last moment. Eventually the team pulls the heist off and take the injured man to a hospital. Later, Dutch Wagenbach would be assigned to investigate the robbery. The final scene of the season has the four members staring at the large pile of cash (later stated to be about $3 million), with Vic estatic and the other three nerviously realizing that consequences are soon to follow.
Season 3 Edit
The Armenians dispatch hitman Margos Dezerian to retrieve the stolen cash, kill whoever stole it and straighten out the Armenian Mob in general. Margos began torturing his way through Farmington and chopping off feet (he was stated to have a foot fetish). Although the Strike Team was convinced that they had pulled the perfect crime, things would soon start to unravel.
- Vic used some of the money in an attempt to purchase MP5 machine guns in an effort to get them off the street. The money was later stolen from him, and the fact that he had taken the money without talking to the rest of the team led to bad blood between him and Shane.
- Shane purchased a Lexus for his girlfriend Mara, despite being told not to change his spending habits. The addition of Mara to Shane's life would cause a rift between Vic and Shane, with Vic becoming sick of Shane's recklessness and Shane growing tired of being treated as an inferior.
- During Season 2 Shane and Lem had been following one of the Armenians, only to back off when he noticed them during an accident. At the time he assumed they were innocent bystanders, but while at the barn he realized they were detectives. His subsequent outburst raised the suspicions of both Dutch and the Armenian Mob.
- Dutch, who was investigating the Heist, became suspicious of Mackey based on his general behavior. He later went on to muse that Vic was capable of overturning the entire Armenian mob in one week, yet unable to uncover leads into the heist.
- Dutch would later share his suspicions with Aceveda who was initially skeptical. However he decided to investigate the Strike Team anyway, realizing that taking down a corrupt cop would grant him enormous political capital.
- The Treasury Department had managed to slip marked bills into the Money Train. Some of those bills had been snatched up by the Byz Lats when they stole the money off the strike team. The marked bills were discovered during a bust, and although the authorities knew that the Byz Lats were innocent of the Money Train Heist, Margos soon tortured and killed their leader.
- While investigating the Byz Lats, Aceveda was orally raped by to Byz Lats members. He kept the attack secret but began pursuing the Byz Lats on his own with a vengeance. Vic interpreted this behavior as trying to tie the gang to the Strike Team, furthering his paranoia and that of Lem.
- Mara stole some of money (including some marked cash) and gave it to her mother. Although she never discovered were it came from, she eventually realized to scope of the Strike Team's illicit activities. This event created a new rift between Vic and Mara, and by proxy, Vic and Shane.
- In order to divert suspicion from themselves, the Strike Team framed an innocent man by placing some marked bills on him. The Armenians eventually killed him.
- A mole in the Treasury Department leaked the Strike Team's photos to the Armenian Mob, and confirmed that there was a hit on them all.
These events put a strain on the Strike Team's friendship. Lem in particular developed an ulcer and began vomiting blood, and became horrified as the team was forced to take increasingly drastic steps to protect themselves. Lem would eventually go on to burn most of the money, which temporarily destroyed the friendship between him and Shane. The destruction of the money train cash removed any threat that law-enforcement posed but did nothing to stop Margos from pursuing them. Eventually Vic corned Margos and killed him. The new blood that replaced Margos had no interest in pursuing the strike team.
At the end of the season the team was safe from both the law and the Armenians. However, Shane was still furious with Lem, who decided to quit the team. Vic, Ronnie and Shane were left with $65,000 each, and Vic gave his share to Corrine. Eventually the three decided to invite Lem back, but when he declared that burning the money was a good decision, Shane exploded and began barraging him with insults. Lem left the team and Vic and Shane began arguing over their relationship. Shane decided to leave the team as well.
Season Four Edit
Shane and Lem have left the team, but business involving Antwon Mitchell continues to bring them back and collaborate with Vic and Ronnie. The two continue to harbor ill will towards each other until they unite to bring down Antwon.
Season Five Edit
Lieutenant Kavanaugh begins investigating the Strike Team. He realizes that both Vic and Shane have money without being able to justify where it came from. Ronnie seems to have hidden his money well and Kavanaugh finds no evidence of him having illegal assets. Mackey gave his money to Corrine, and once the investigation started told her to admit the truth to Kavanaugh to save herself from any prosecution. Shane and Mara had begun a renovation of their house and were careful to account for the expenses. However Kavanaugh realized that they couldn't afford both the construction and the cost of living, and thus that their day-to-day expenses were covered by ill-gotten gains. In Shane's words, "[After the construction bills] there's nothing left over, and he knows that".
As a result of Lieutenant Kavanaugh's Investigation, Lem is forced to go on the run and is unable to contact the team. Dutch informs Kavanaugh of his suspicions involving the money train heist. Lem becomes terrified that jail time will lead to his death at the hands of the One-Niners, and tells Rebecca Doyle that he will plead guilty to armed robbery if he can serve time in federal prison. Becca does as he asks, without informing Mackey of anything that has transpired. Kavanaugh realizes the truth about the money train heist and has Aceveda convince the Stike Team that Lem has turned on them. Shane goes on to murder Lem with a grenade.
Season Six Edit
The ramifications of Lem's death are the driving force behind this season. Shane writes a confession to protect himself from Vic, mentioning the Heist. Later, Shane informs Diro Kesakhian that Vic committed the robbery but doesn't mention that he was also involved. Diro decides to kill Vic and his family, which a horrified Shane does the best to prevent.
Season Seven Edit
Since the Armenians realize that Vic committed the robbery, he is forced to work with Shane to dismantle their whole organization while pretending to work for them. Vic manages to have the Armenians killed by Cruz Pezuela. Later on, Vic confesses to the money train to ensure his immunity, causing Ronnie to be arrested for it.