Cargo handler at Miami airport accused of $1.2M cellphone theft

Eduardo Rivera-Paz (MDCR/Copyright 2023 Google)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Last Monday, a cargo container from South Florida arrived in Colombia. It was supposed to be full of cellphones.

Instead, it was full of sandbags.

That led to a Miami-Dade police investigation and led detectives to arrest a cargo handler working out of a company based at the Miami International Airport.

Thirty-seven-year-old Eduardo Miguel Rivera-Paz of Miramar is accused of committing the crime. He faced three grand theft charges.

According to a Miami-Dade Police Department arrest report, a corporate security official at DHL Express reported the theft to police Friday after the sandbag-filled container arrived in Bogota.

Roughly $1.2 million worth of Samsung phones were gone, he told police.

According to authorities, a review of surveillance video led police to zero in on Rivera-Paz, identified in the police report as a “third-party supervisor” at the DHL facility employed by Worldwide Flight Services.

Police said the surveillance video showed Rivera-Paz near the container, identified in the report as “AAX 9568,” as it was being placed outside.

The report states he walked to another freight forwarder and came back with an unidentified man.

According to police, the video shows that man going back to the freight forwarder and coming back with a forklift. The man then takes the cargo container and brings it back to the freight forwarder.

The report states that AAX 9568 and another container were seen on surveillance footage being loaded into a trailer. Three hours later, police said Rivera contacted DHL security, informing them that he needed a cargo bay door opened to receive two empty aluminum cans from the same trailer seen in previous footage.

Police said he then placed AAX 9568, now full of sandbags instead of cellphones, back on the tarmac to be loaded on the flight to Bogota.

According to the report, officers came back to the DHL Express facility Sunday morning and arrested Rivera-Paz.

He was being held in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $300,000 bond, according to jail records.

The Cuban national was also being held on a warrant case, records show.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.