Members of Jewelry Theft Ring Sentenced
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. –Lucesita Argueta, 34, of Richmond, Va., was sentenced today to 108 months in prison, and Juanita Diaz, 44, of Henrico, Va., was sentenced to 12 months home confinement for their participation in a violent and highly sophisticated jewelry theft ring that operated out of Richmond, Va.
Kathleen Kahoe, Acting 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 sentencing by United States District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.
According to court documents, co-defendant Alexander Cuadros-Garcia, 37, from Colombia, led the organized criminal group that stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry from victims in Virginia and at least four other states, including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Maryland. In March, 2012, Cuadros-Garcia, Argueta, and Diaz were charged along with five other members of the Richmond-based ring. Members 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 phone 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. Members of the ring then laundered the proceeds through bank accounts and businesses.
Co-defendants Cuadros-Garcia, Leonardo Ortiz, Raul Antonio Escobar-Martinez, Luis Carlos Muchado, William Leandro Herrera-Bohorquez, and Jose Alfredo-Rivero-Garcia previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the theft ring. Escobar-Martinez and Herrera-Bohorquez were sentenced on March 7, and March 14, 2013, respectively, to serve 87 months in prison. Rivero-Garcia was sentenced on July 24, 2013, to 37 months in prison. Leonardo Ortiz’ sentencing date has not yet been set, Luis Carlos Muchado is scheduled to be sentenced on September 27, 2013, and Cuadros-Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25, 2013.
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.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.