Three Members of Jewelry Theft Ring Plead Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Members of a violent and highly sophisticated jewelry theft ring pleaded guilty this week for their participation in a racketeering conspiracy.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Carl J. Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after multiple pleas were entered this week.
Lucesita Argueta, 33, aka “Lucy,” of Richmond, Va., pleaded guilty on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller in the Eastern District of Virginia to racketeering conspiracy. Jose Alfredo Rivero-Garcia, 52, aka “Alfredo” and “Jose Ribero,” of Richmond, pleaded guilty on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller in the Eastern District of Virginia to racketeering conspiracy. Luis Muchado, 33, of Henrico, Va., pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller in the Eastern District of Virginia to racketeering conspiracy.
According to court documents, Alexander Cuadros-Garcia, aka “Alex,” “Brujo,” “Aleto” and “Manuel Gonzalez”, 37, of Richmond, led an organized criminal group that stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry from victims in Virginia and at least six other states. In March 2012, Cuadros-Garcia, Argueta, Rivero-Garcia, and Muchado were charged along with four other individuals who were members of the Richmond-based ring that regularly conducted lengthy surveillance on jewelry stores to identify vulnerable individuals and then follow their targets back to the individuals’ hotel or home.
In most of the robberies, several men would suddenly appear as the victims approached or entered their car, punch out the car’s windows, threaten the victims at knife-point and steal the victims’ merchandise. In addition, the robbers would puncture the victims’car tires and steal their cell phones to reduce the chance of pursuit or apprehension. After a successful robbery, members of the ring would travel to New York to sell the merchandise to businessmen who coordinated re-selling the stolen property or melting it down for future use.
At sentencing, Argueta, Rivero-Garcia, and Muchado each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
This week’s guilty pleas follow the guilty plea of Cuadros-Garcia, on March 29, 2013, and sentencings of Raul Antonio Escobar-Martinez, on March 7, 2013, and William Leandro Herrera-Bohorquez, on March 14, 2013, who both previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the theft ring. Escobar-Martinez and Herrera-Bohorquez were each sentenced to serve 87 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
The investigation of this case was led by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, with the assistance of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the police departments in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Henrico County, Chesterfield, Prince William County and Fairfax County in Virginia, along with the Virginia State Police; the Baltimore County, Md., Police Department; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the New York City Police Department; and the police departments in Rutherford, N.J., and Gwinnett County, Ga.; and the Morris County, N.J. Prosecutor’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Hurt of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Jerome M. Maiatico of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.