Leader of Violent Jewelry Theft Ring Sentenced to 20 Years
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Alexander Cuadros-Garcia, 39, of Richmond, Va., and Leonardo Ortiz, 42, of North Chesterfield, Va., were sentenced to 240 months and 210 months in prison, respectively, for participating in a violent and highly sophisticated jewelry theft ring that operated out of Richmond, Va.
Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. 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 following the sentencing by District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.
“This crew was violent, sophisticated, and relentless in stealing several million dollars in jewelry from victims along the East Coast,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Boente. “The substantial sentences imposed on these two defendants, along with the sentences imposed before on their confederates, is a testament to the great work and cooperation of our law enforcement partners across multiple states and agencies.”
“This is a perfect example of our commitment to combating violent and organized crime elements operating within our nation,” added Carl Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division. “ATF’s new FRONTLINE Initiative has been implemented to concentrate our resources against those who pose the greatest threat to our citizens through violence and terror. I am extremely impressed with the courage and diligence of our agents in the Norfolk Field Office, which spearheaded this operation, and I commend them on their success.”
According to court documents, Cuadros-Garcia led the organized criminal group in stealing 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 and Ortiz were charged along with six 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 appear suddenly 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 Lucesita Argueta, Raul Antonio Escobar-Martinez, Luis Carlos Muchado, William Leandro Herrera-Bohorquez, Jose Alfredo Rivero-Garcia, and Juanita Diaz 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. Argueta was sentenced on September 18, 2013, to 108 months in prison. Diaz was sentenced on September 18, 2013, to serve 12 months of home confinement. Muchado was sentenced on September 27, 2013, to serve 97 months in prison.
Cuadros-Garcia was sentenced on December 18, 2013, to 240 months in prison, and Ortiz was sentenced on December 20, 2013, to 210 months in prison.
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, Va., 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.