Opa-locka man appears in court for gold heist involvement

FBI presented evidence agianst Perez before the court

MIAMI – Wearing a khaki jumpsuit and shackled at the waist, Adalberto Perez did not say anything except for his name and age during his first appearance before a federal magistrate Thursday.

Perez, 46, was in court because of his alleged involvement in a March 2015 heist during which $4.9 million worth of gold bars were stolen.

Federal agents raided and searched Perez’s Opa-locka property Wednesday. They seized and towed his fishing boat with twin outboards, named the Grunt Master, to FBI headquarters in Miramar.

In court Thursday, FBI investigators said they found incriminating evidence in his home.

They didn’t find the 10 gold bars, but they did find a bag of 40 silver coins marked by the refinery that authorities said were stolen during the armed robbery in North Carolina. They also found $600 cash in the oven and two handguns in an air-conditioning vent in the ceiling. One of those guns was stolen.

According to the FBI, the heist went down when a tractor-trailer traveling from Miami to Boston was pulled over March 1, 2015, on Interstate 95 in Wilson County, North Carolina, by two gunmen.

The gunmen spoke Spanish and identified themselves as "policia." The FBI said they tied up the driver and passenger of a truck and then left with the loot in a white van.

Authorities said they used Perez’s cellphone location, following the exact route of the truck and robbery.

Another South Florida man, Miguel Bovar, has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for trying to sell one of the stolen gold bars, but the FBI doesn't believe Bovar was involved in the heist.

Following Thursday’s hearing, Perez’s sister-in-law could not believe Perez was involved in the robbery.

"He lives off his job," Mily Nait said. "He is a working man. How do you account for them finding the evidence inside the home? I don't know if it is true. I mean, in today's world, you can't trust law enforcement. They didn't show us anything. They just went in there and everybody was kicked out and they can say whatever."

Perez will have a bond hearing Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, the FBI still has a $25,000 reward for any information leading to another arrest.