Four sentenced in cigarette truck theft

| 9/18/2003

A failed attempt to steal a cigarette truck has landed four Florida men in prison, The Associated Press reported Sept. 17.

Ricardo Sanchez of Hialeah, Fla., Lazaro Gomez, Juan Carlos Gomez and Lazaro Rey, all of Miami, were all sentenced Monday to more than three years in prison. The sentences were handed down in U.S. District Court in Charleston, WV.

Sanchez and Antonio Rodriguez, also of Hialeah, FL, pleaded guilty Jan. 14 before U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden II to charges related to the theft of the tractor-trailer, which was laden with $1.8 million worth of cigarettes, TheGainesville Sun reported in January. The AP said Rodriguez was still awaiting trial after Haden rejected his guilty plea.

The five men were accused of trailing a semi loaded with 42,000 pounds of cigarettes from Huntersville, NC, to a rest area on the West Virginia Turnpike outside of Charleston Sept. 9, 2002.

When the truck driver went into the service plaza, police allege that Rodriguez and Sanchez broke into the rig and hot-wired the ignition, according to TheSun. The men then allegedly drove north while the others followed them in a van.

West Virginia State Police located the truck a short time later. Rodriguez and Sanchez were apprehended after a short foot pursuit.

All five were charged with conspiracy to steal goods moving as an interstate shipment of freight and theft of an interstate shipment, The AP said.