Five charged in cigarette-truck heist

| 9/13/2002

Five Florida men have been charged with stealing a tractor-trailer loaded with $1.8 million worth of cigarettes from a West Virginia rest stop. If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The men are accused of breaking into the rig and hot-wiring the ignition Sept. 9 while it was parked at a rest area on the West Virginia Turnpike about 25 miles south of Charleston.

Two men - Antonio Evedio Rodriguez and Ricardo Sanchez, both of Miami - allegedly broke into the rig and headed north on the turnpike. According to authorities, it was not clear what the other men did after the truck left the rest area.

State Police located the truck about 8 miles outside Charleston. The pair was apprehended after a short foot pursuit. The other suspects remain at large.

The men reportedly followed the tractor-trailer, which contained 42,000 pounds of cigarettes, from a Phillip Morris facility near Huntersville, NC, to the West Virginia rest stop.