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Press Release

Eight Bronx Men Charged For Participation In Beer Theft Enterprise

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; James E. Dennehy, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); Edward T. Cetnar, Superintendent of Police and Director of Public Safety of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“PANYNJ”); and Sean Douris, the Chief of Police, Public Safety, and Infrastructure Protection at CSX, announced today the unsealing of a seven-count Indictment charging JOSE CESARI, a/k/a “Cry,” MIGUEL CINTRON, LUIS IZQUIERDO, a/k/a “Luis Zapata,” WAKIEM JOHNSON, a/k/a “Waka,” KEMAR BONITTO, DEYLIN MARTINEZ-GUERRERO, ANTONIO GONZALEZ, and JUSTIN BRUNO with crimes arising from their participation in a multi-year scheme to steal beer — primarily Corona and Modelo shipped from Mexico — from railroad cars and beverage distribution facilities located throughout the Northeast, including in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York (the “Beer Theft Enterprise”).  Six defendants were arrested today and will be presented this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robyn F. Tarnofsky.  CESARI remains at large, and BONITTO is in state custody in Connecticut.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “For years, the Beer Theft Enterprise has operated brazenly, allegedly breaking into railyards and beverage distribution facilities throughout the Northeast and filling U-Haul box trucks to the brim with cases of beer.  That dangerous and disruptive conduct — sometimes allegedly accompanied by the threat of violence — has left several beverage distribution and railroad companies ailing.  Today’s arrests reinforce that the Beer Theft Enterprise’s staggering thefts will not be tolerated in the Southern District of New York.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said: “Train heists harken back to the days of the Wild West and gunslingers riding horses, stealing loot from rail cars.  The romanticized image has nothing to do with the modern-day criminals we allege took part in a theft ring in New Jersey, New York, and beyond that targeted railyards and beverage distribution centers.  They used the cover of night to cut through fencing, off-load pallets of beer, and sold off the stolen goods, costing the victims’ companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The alleged ringleader Cesari often used a weapon during the robberies.  Our team of agents and investigators working on this case has done an outstanding job bringing these alleged thieves' crime spree to the end of the line.”

PANYNJ Superintendent of Police and Director of Public Safety Edward T. Cetnar said: “These brazen thefts result in millions of dollars of lost revenue every year, directly affecting the regional economy and everyone’s safety.  The cooperative efforts of law enforcement in this case show our focus on securing our facilities and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

CSX Chief of Police, Public Safety, and Infrastructure Protection Sean Douris said: “CSX is committed to protecting the safety of its property and that of its customers.  We take criminal activity very seriously.  Railyards are privately owned property and unauthorized activity is considered criminal trespassing and violators will be prosecuted.  CSX appreciates the valuable partnerships we have with federal and local law enforcement agencies in New York, and across our network, who are crucial when it comes to investigating incidents and prosecuting individuals responsible for theft.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment:[1]     

Between in or about July 2022 and in or about March 2024, the Beer Theft Enterprise carried out dozens of beer thefts throughout the Northeast, which cumulatively resulted in losses to certain beverage distribution companies of at least hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In a typical theft, the Beer Theft Enterprise operated under cover of night.  At least some of the members of the Enterprise working that night assembled in the Bronx before travelling to that night’s target railyard or beverage distribution facility.  Typically, one or more members working that night drove a vehicle — often a U-Haul box truck — to the target location to be filled with cases of stolen beer.  After arriving at the railyard or beverage distribution facility, members of the Enterprise commonly gained unauthorized access by cutting a hole in the fencing surrounding the location.  When stealing from a railyard, members frequently cut the lock to railroad cars containing sealed pallets of cases of beer — usually Corona or Modelo — then unsealed the pallets and transported the cases of beer to their waiting vehicles.  Generally, they transported the stolen beer to the Bronx, where it was inspected and made available for sale.  The participating members of the Beer Theft Enterprise were usually paid hundreds of dollars for the night’s work after assisting in a beer theft.

As a leader of the Beer Theft Enterprise, CESARI was often present during these robberies.  Sometimes, during a particular beer theft, CESARI used a police scanner to monitor potential police activity.  In addition to participating in many of the Enterprise’s raids over the course of the conspiracy, CESARI sometimes sought to recruit new members to the conspiracy with promises of monetary gain.

CINTRON, IZQUIERDO, JOHNSON, BONITTO, MARTINEZ-GUERRERO, GONZALEZ, and BRUNO were members of the Beer Theft Enterprise.  These defendants participated in certain thefts perpetrated by the organization by, for example, renting or driving vehicles that were used in particular thefts, helping plan or execute particular thefts by communicating with CESARI, and otherwise assisting in particular thefts.

*                *                *

A chart containing the names, ages, charges, and minimum and maximum penalties for the defendants is set forth below. 

The minimum and maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the PANYNJ, and the CSX Police Department.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Rosenberg is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.




Min. and Max. Penalties


Conspiracy to steal from interstate or foreign shipments by carrier, and to break and enter carrier facilities with intent to commit larceny therein




GONZALEZ, 33; and


Maximum sentence of five years in prison


Theft from interstate or foreign shipments




Maximum sentence of 10 years in prison


Theft from interstate or foreign shipments



Maximum sentence of 10 years in prison


Theft from interstate or foreign shipments



Maximum sentence of 10 years in prison


Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery


Maximum sentence of 20 years in prison


Hobbs Act robbery


Maximum sentence of 20 years in prison


Using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence


Mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of seven years in prison

Maximum sentence


life in prison


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated April 4, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-113