Mexican national arrested for smuggling millions in stolen wedding dresses

| 11/9/2007

Seven months after suspicious customs agents pulled over a semi with a trailer full of stolen wedding dresses, U.S. authorities have arrested a Mexican national living in Arizona for his part in a scheme that must have been inspired by NAFTA.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alejandro Parra-Ruiz, 32, a Mexico national and legal resident living in Laveen, AZ, hired a commercial truck driver to transport the dresses from Mexico into Arizona.

The Oregon-based Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation reported the dresses stolen in November 2006.

After the dresses were stolen, they apparently were taken south of the U.S.-Mexico border before customs agents noticed a suspicious truck and trailer attempting to enter the U.S. at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, AZ. Customs officials noticed the trailer was partially covered with masking tape.

Agents later found the words, “Making Memories” in script on the 40-foot trailer.

During a phone call monitored by ICE, Parra-Ruiz told Ivan Mesa-Esparza, a hired truck driver, to lie to customs and border patrol officials about where the dresses were picked up.

ICE officials said the dresses have been returned to the charity, which raises money to grant dying wishes to breast cancer patients, according to a news release from ICE.

“We were determined to find those responsible for the theft in this case,” said Alonzo Pena, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Arizona. “Stealing from a cancer charity is a despicable crime and I’m proud to say that ICE played a role in ensuring that these dresses made it to the charity for which they were intended.”