3 South Florida men accused in $7 million iPhone theft ring

Suspects arrested this month throughout Miami-Dade County

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

From left: Israel Valdez, Yojani Carballosa and Joaquin Rivas

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Three South Florida men were arrested this month in connection with a $7 million iPhone theft ring, authorities said.

Israel Valdez, 35, of Miami, was the first person to be arrested April 5.

According to an arrest report, Valdez was found in possession of 200 stolen iPhones and confessed to paying $100,000 in cash for the smartphones, which are valued at about $170,000.

Detectives said Valdez admitted that he was planning to sell the stolen phones for $500 to $550 each, below the retail price.

Valdez facing a charge of dealing in stolen property.

Police said Yojani Carballosa, 34, of Miami, was arrested April 14 on charges of tampering with physical evidence, petty theft, criminal mischief and being an accessory after the fact.

A third man, Joaquin Rivas, 53, of Hialeah, was arrested Thursday on charges of grand theft cargo, tampering with physical evidence, criminal mischief and petty theft.

According to an arrest warrant, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations received a tip last September that a cargo theft was going to occur at Miami International Airport.

Detectives said a confidential informant told them that he was solicited by Rivas, who he knew as "Chino," to steal cargo from a LAN Cargo warehouse at MIA.

The informant said Rivas agreed to pay him $40,000 if he would participate in the theft.

According to the warrant, Rivas told the informant that he would provide him with a cargo truck, a fake Florida driver's license, a fake company ID card and paperwork that would allow him to remove the cargo from the storage facility.

Detectives said Rivas was seen April 3 driving near a Home Depot in Hialeah Gardens and stopping where a trailer full of the stolen phones was parked.

Detectives said the trailer was the same one used in the cargo theft at MIA.

According to the warrant, Rivas drove away and Carballosa drove up to the trailer in a Mercedes at the same time as a tractor-trailer.

Detectives said Carballosa and the other driver both got out of their vehicles and Carballosa appeared to inspect the trailer before driving away.

Police pulled both drivers over and determined that the tractor-trailer driver was hired to move the trailer, but he refused because Carballosa could not provide him with the proper paperwork.

Police said Carballosa, who works at EJ Trade Logistics, based in Doral, said he had been contacted by Rivas a few days prior to the theft. He said Rivas claimed that he had a friend who wanted to rent a trailer and Carballosa agreed to help him.

Surveillance video from EJ Trade Logistics shows Carballosa and Rivas meeting in the parking lot and affixing signage to the tractor that was used in the theft of the iPhones.

All three men remain in jail in Miami.

 

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