20 arrests made after $1.5 million worth of plastic crates stolen in Miami-Dade County

Thefts raised price of gallon of milk by about a nickel, state attorney says

Nely Barrios, 54, (left) and Oscar Federico-Molinari, 27, are still wanted by police in racketeering operation.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – An eight-month investigation into missing plastic crates from retail stores across Miami-Dade County has ended with the arrest of 20 people.

Miami-Dade police spokesman Daniel Ferrin said that the theft ring managed to steal more than $1.5 million worth of plastic crates used to carry milk and bread to stores.

Police say the crates were shredded and sold to recycling centers.

While conducting the arrests Thursday, investigators found 2,900 milk crates at one facility, in addition to bags filled with an estimated $30,000 worth of shredded plastic.

The 20 suspects face charges of criminal racketeering and dealing in stolen property.

Police said they are still searching for a man and a woman believed to be involved in the operation. They have been identified as Nely Barrios, 54, and Oscar Federico-Molinari, 27.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says the thefts led to the cost of a gallon of milk rising by about a nickel.       

Anyone with information about Barrios or Federico's whereabouts is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.