Last Defendant Sentenced in Auto Theft and Cloning Ring
Tampa, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew today sentenced Eliener Alfonso-Gonzalez (43, a Cuban national originally residing in Miami) to eight years and four months in federal prison. Alfonso-Gonzalez was sentenced for his part in a multi-object conspiracy involving the cloning and interstate transportation of stolen automobiles and for aiding and abetting the interstate transportation of a stolen automobile. The court entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $2.5 million, which represents the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. He was also ordered to pay restitution in excess of $203,000. Alfonso-Gonzalez was extradited from Mexico in June 2011. He pled guilty on October 26, 2011.
According to court documents, from an unknown date prior to April 2000, through March 2009, a conspiracy existed involving Alfonso-Gonzalez, Pablo Barrio, and numerous associates (co-conspirators). The conspiracy involved multiple objects including stealing motor vehicles, including luxury automobiles, sports utility vehicles, and various models of pickup trucks from individuals and businesses, including automobile dealerships, throughout the Middle District of Florida and elsewhere. It also involved obtaining privately owned motor vehicles from individuals who voluntarily reported their vehicles stolen in order to make fraudulent insurance claims on the vehicles; altering and changing the VIN plates and decals (cloning) of the vehicles with counterfeit VIN plates and decals, which were sent via commercial interstate and foreign carriers, to the conspirators from co-conspirators located in Mexico; and transporting these stolen and cloned vehicles to locations outside of Florida for sale, using counterfeit vehicle titles and other documents received from co-conspirators in Mexico.
During the existence of the conspiracy, the conspirators stole and transported more than 100 motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The value of these vehicles totaled more than $2.5 million. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, this group of individuals was one of the most prolific and sophisticated professional auto theft organizations ever encountered.
In March 2009, thirteen individuals were charged in this case. Each has pled guilty. German Rodriguez fled the country after entering a guilty plea but before his sentencing hearing. He remains a fugitive. The others have all been sentenced.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Miami-Dade Auto Theft Task Force, Tampa Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Kane-Cook County Auto Theft Task Force in Illinois, Dupage County Auto Theft Task Force in Illinois, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Donald L. Hansen.