Multi-state cargo theft ring busted, eight indicted

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Updated Jul 14, 2015
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Eight individuals have been indicted as part of an alleged organized scheme to steal tens of millions of dollars in merchandise from shipments of cargo moving through the several midwestern and southern states, the Justice Department announced this week.

The group would transport the stolen merchandise to locations in Kentucky, New Jersey, Florida and elsewhere, investigators said, and then sell the stolen goods.

The eight indicted allegedly traveled from various locations throughout the U.S. to Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and other states to steal products that were being shipped.

Specifically, it’s alleged the defendants surveyed distribution facilities used by various national companies to ship products. They would then follow a tractor-trailer until the driver would stop to rest or refuel the truck, then work together to steal the entire tractor-trailer loaded with freight.

The indictment is the culmination of a joint, multi-year investigation involving the FBI, Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, Wythe County (VA) Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Illinois State Police, Virginia State Police, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Fayette County (OH) Sheriff’s Department, Oklahoma City Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, among others.

Those indicted include: Carlos Enrique Freire-Pifferrer, 36 of Louisville; Juan Perez-Gonzalez, 41 of Louisville; Eduardo Hernandez, 52 of Miami; Mario Hernandez-Oquendo, 37 of Miami; Yoel Palenzuela-Mendez, 40 of Miami; Orlis Machado-Cantillo, 44 of Louisville; Miguel Mompie, 47 of Louisville; and Ritzy Robert-Montaner, 25 of Louisville.


According to the indictment, on 11 separate occasions the group stole cargo loads traveling through Southern Indiana and/or used interstate highways in the area to transport the stolen goods to another state.

Stolen cargo is alleged to include computers and computer equipment, cell phones, electronics, appliances, perfume, cosmetics, clothing, baby formula and tires. The value of the stolen merchandise exceeds $17.5 million, investigators say.

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The defendants face sentences of up to 10 years in prison for each count of possession or transportation of stolen goods in interstate commerce, and up to five years on the conspiracy charges.  The defendants also face up to three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.