MIAMI – More than a dozen South Florida men have been charged in connection with a large-scale cargo theft ring, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Monday.
"These individuals would sniff out parked cargo trailers in industrial parks. They hunted parked tractor-trailers. They banded together to efficiently steal whatever they could,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Prosecutors said the men were involved in over two dozens thefts of loaded tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles across Florida and in Southern Georgia during the past two years. Investigators said they have recovered at least $2.2 million in stolen property.
Prosecutor said Marcos Gonzalez-Bernal, 35, and Alexis Simon-Quintero, 53, led the operation and chose which targets to steal.
Authorities said Pavel Garcia Cruz, 46; Leandro Fuentes-Fernandez, 20; Yurien Diaz-Hidalgo, 34; Yukieski Plasncia, 30; Orlando Perez, 29; Alain Gonzalez-Rosales, 49; Yosmel Suarez, 36; Eleno Valdez, 56, acted as drivers, stealing the vehicles.
Meanwhile, Lazaro Ramous-Abreu, 51; Ernesto Berrios, 50; Jorge Quintero, 36; and Raudel Rodriquez, 42, sold the property to chop shops and other buyers and even kept some of the loot for themselves, authorities said.
According to Fernandez Rundle, the defendants "made their living" running the ring.
Prosecutors said the men helped steal and resell the contents of the trailers, which included expensive cars, boats and high-end furniture. One theft in West Palm Beach involved more than $50,000 worth of Coca-Cola products. The ring also stole a tractor-trailer and about $500,000 worth of liquor from a driver in Pompano Beach, prosecutor said.
Most of the members of the ring have been arrested, but authorities said four men -- Garcia Cruz, Suarez, Rodriguez and Quintero -- remain at large.
“They have ties to the Miami, to South Florida, specifically to the Hialeah region," said Miami-Dade County Police Director Juan Perez.