The U.S. Justice Department arrested seven individuals that they believe were members of a jewelry theft gang that stalked and robbed traveling salesmen of merchandise in several states. Charges against the individuals were unsealed after the defendants made initial court appearances in Newport News, Virginia yesterday.
“According to the charges unsealed today, members of this organized criminal group stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry from victims in Virginia and at least six other states,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. “The defendants allegedly operated their sophisticated scheme for more than two years, using intimidation and violence to carry it out. Organized criminal groups pose a serious threat to the safety and security of our communities, and we will continue to do everything in our power to bring them to justice.”
The seven were described as a tight-knit group of men and women who remained very patient in stalking their victims, violently attacked, were extremely mobile and struck swiftly.
According to court records, Alexander Cuadros-Garcia, aka “Alex,” “Brujo,” “Aleto” and “Manuel Gonzalez,” 37, of Richmond, Virginia, is accused of leading a team of individuals who specialized in conducting surveillance on jewelry stores to identify and then rob jewelry sales representatives and couriers. The group is believed to have committed an attempted robberies since March 2010 in Prince William County, Henrico County, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, McLean, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Roanoke in Virginia, as well as locations in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and California.
Court documents allege that the group has ties to South American theft gangs, which are transnational criminal groups typically of Colombian nationality that work in teams to steal jewelry, diamonds and precious metals from individuals carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise at one time.
After a successful robbery, members of the group allegedly traveled to New York to sell the merchandise to businessmen, who acted as “fences” and coordinated re-selling the stolen property or melting it down for future use.
The investigation involved numbers local and federal government agencies from Washington D.C. and the states of New York, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey.