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Miami man accused of stealing ventilators intended for COVID-19 patients in El Salvador arrested

A photo of Yoelvis Denis Hernandez taken on 8/20/2020.
A photo of Yoelvis Denis Hernandez taken on 8/20/2020. (FBI)

MIAMI, Fla. – Hundreds of ventilators on their way to help critically ill COVID-19 patients in El Salvador were stolen in August. Now, the second man authorities were looking for in connection with that theft has been arrested in Del Rio, Texas, after months-long search.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, Yoelvis Denis Hernandez, a.k.a. Guajiro, 42, of Miami, stole a tractor trailer loaded with 192 government-owned ventilators worth about $3 million in August.

The ventilators had been acquired by USAID and were to be sent to the government of El Salvador as part of a program to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. But before they could get there, they were intercepted by Hernandez and co-conspirator, Luis Urra-Montero, a.k.a. Flaco, 24, according to investigators.

On Aug. 9, 2020, Hernandez and Montero stole a truck filled with the ventilators from a lot where the driver had left it overnight while it was on its way to the Miami International Airport.

Law enforcement found most of the stolen ventilators. Urra-Montero was arrested on September 15, 2020.

A 2019 story in the Naples Daily News reported Hernandez and Urra-Montero had been arrested in Collier County after stealing a semi-cab and trailer from Miami, and that Hernandez had stolen a semi-cab loaded with $750,000 in laptops three weeks before.

Hernandez made his initial federal court appearance Friday in the western district of Texas.