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'Most wanted' fugitive captured with 2 others after jewelry store heists

Suspects arrested Sunday after attempting to break into store, police say

HIALEAH, Fla. – A "most wanted" fugitive was among three people who were arrested Sunday in connection with three jewelry store heists throughout Hialeah, authorities said.

Anibal Mustelier, 66, has been sought by the FBI, U.S. marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for 26 years.

Mustelier, Jose Pineda-Castro, 25, and Yamile Diaz-Bernal, 27, face various charges, including armed burglary, attempted robbery, false imprisonment and grand theft.

The latest attempted jewelry store heist was reported Aug. 8 at Real Deal Jewelry at 1548 W. 49th St.

According to an arrest report, Mustelier, Pineda-Castro and an unknown man made a hole through the roof of a business next to the store, D&J Nails, in hopes of breaking into the jewelry store.

Police said a metal pipe that contained electrical wires was cut in the process, which caused a power outage in the shopping plaza.

A witness told police that he saw three men the next morning dressed in dark clothing and hats. He said they were carrying duffel bags and walking rapidly away from the shopping plaza.

A confidential informant later got a confession about the burglary and attempted robbery from Mustelier, police said.

"We believe that he was the brains behind the operation," Hialeah police Lt. Carl Zogby said. "He had the experience. He was the seasoned criminal here, absolutely."

Authorities said Mustelier implicated Pineda-Castro and Diaz-Bernal in the incident and Pineda-Castro admitted that the initial plan was to commit an armed robbery, but they aborted their plan because of the power outage.

All three were arrested Sunday. A search of Mustelier's home turned up two handguns, burglary tools, several pieces of jewelry, some of which were still wrapped in fabric used in jewelry displays, and multiple Rolex and Cartier watches, the report said.

Detectives said they also found a bulletproof vest, two-way radios, a ski mask and multiple pairs of gloves.

Mustelier and Pineda-Castro are also facing charges in the robberies of Luany Jewelry at 1738 W. 49th St. on May 30, 2015, and the Sept. 3, 2015, robbery of Ariel Jewelry at 2476 W. 60th St.

Each time the men used an adjacent wall to break in, police said.

"Once they move it inside your jewelry store, people would get guns put to their faces, thrown on the ground, women duct taped, and people would be abused and mistreated until they emptied all the jewelry and left you," Zogby said. "And you'd probably have to close up shop after that because they would ruin your business."

Police said Mustelier is linked to murders from the 80s and 90s, and one of the biggest bank heists in Florida's history.

"He is thought to have connections to Fidel, with assassinations," Zogby said. "This is a very dangerous guy hiding in plain site -- an international fugitive hiding in our city."

Mustelier was arrested at a home in Hialeah on East 21st Street and Pineda-Castro and Diaz-Bernal were found at a motel.

All three are being held in jail without bond.

Police are searching for a fourth person believed to be involved in the jewelry heists, identified as Etiam Regalado, 24.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.


About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.