Florida duo nabbed in FBI cargo theft sting

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 3/4/2014

A pair of Florida men are accused of operating a cargo theft ring in southern Florida, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court by the FBI.

Eliesky Sanchez, 31, and Reinaldo Garcia Suarez, 39, both of West Palm Beach, have been charged with conspiracy to receive stolen goods and sale or receipt of stolen property, according to U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrar.

The defendants made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon on Feb. 28. A pretrial detention hearing for Sanchez has been scheduled for March 5. A pretrial detention hearing for Garcia Suarez has been scheduled for March 7.

According to the criminal complaint, the FBI investigation revealed that Sanchez and Suarez were actively selling and providing as samples property that bore identifying numbers. The numbers matched the numbers on products stolen from different tractor trailer thefts in the Florida area. Those items include LCD vehicle monitors, food and drinks, clothing items, feminine hygiene products and brand-name wrist watches, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.

Using a confidential informant, the FBI was able to arrange a meeting with the suspects, which occurred Feb. 25 at a self-storage facility in Palm Springs. During their meeting, the defendants reportedly opened the storage units and showed the informant pallets of merchandise inside each unit.

During this time, the confidential informant had an empty trailer dropped off at this location as part of his undercover role. The informant discussed with the defendants filling the trailer with merchandise which the informant would purchase on Feb. 27, 2014, and then ship to Brazil. As part of these arrangements, the informant agreed to purchase approximately three 53-foot trailer loads of merchandise from the defendants over the course of a few days.

According to the criminal complaint, several of the thefts occurred primarily in parking lots around Florida, including the July 22, 2013, theft of 5,356 vehicle monitors worth more than $900,000 that were stolen from outside a Home Depot in Orlando; an Aug. 3, 2013 theft of 12,140 Invicta wrist watches stolen from outside a Lowe’s store in Hialeah, valued at roughly $700,000; and a Nov. 25, 2013, tractor trailer theft of 12,316 pieces of Ralph Lauren clothing items from a parking lot in Vero Beach, valued at $510,680.

The complaint also states that items matching the lot numbers from a mid-January theft of approximately 59 pallets of Proctor & Gamble products stolen from a parking lot in Laurinburg, N.C., were recovered in the sting.

OOIDA security operations director Doug Morris said drivers who must park overnight should look for “safe, known places.”

“What probably happened here is the drivers were followed to various parking lots, and then robbed,” he said. “It happens all the time.”

Morris said drivers should park in well-lit places whenever possible, and make sure they have a lock on their trailers.

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