One of three suspects accused of stealing $4.8 million in a brazen heist along Interstate 95 has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Defendant Roberto Cabrera admitted Monday to three counts including conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of crime and possession of body armor by a convicted felon. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison. A sentencing hearing is set for June 23 at the U.S. District Court in Miami.
Federal investigators say Cabrera, co-defendant Adalberto Perez, and an unidentified third man made up a trio of hijackers who robbed a tractor-trailer carrying gold and other precious metals on March 1, 2015.
A probable cause affidavit filed in connection with the case alleges that the thieves used GPS to track the truck and released pepper spray into the cab via remote control to sicken the guards and make the rig pull over. More than 275 pounds of gold bars and some silver were stolen.
Perez has pleaded not guilty to robbery and firearms charges.
Law enforcement said the shipment of gold bars aboard a TransValue Inc. truck was hijacked in Wilson County, N.C., on its way from Republic Metals near Miami to a processing facility in Bridgewater, Mass.
The FBI credits a ‘cooperating source’ with providing the break the agency needed to apprehend at least some of those involved in the heist.
The confidential source allegedly identified Perez as the person who planned and organized the gold heist. The informant told federal agents that Perez admitted to the robbery and had a series of conversations with the suspect about the heist, which the source alleges was in the planning stages for more than a year, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.
According to the source, Perez sold off most of his share of the gold, and used the proceeds to buy at least two residences, three cars and a boat. The informant also claims that some of the stolen gold was fashioned into jewelry, including a bracelet, a chain, and a medallion of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of armorers, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives.
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