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June 1, 2018 5:15 PM, EDT
Four Sentenced for Roles in $30 Million Cargo Theft Ring
cargo theft Gregory Dubus

Four men convicted for their roles in a cargo theft ring that operated from the Midwest to the East Coast were sentenced in federal court in New Albany, Ind., in May.

Ringleaders Roberto Santos-Gonzalez, 37, and Carlos Enrique Freire-Pifferrer, as well as commercial truck drivers Juan Perez-Gonzalez, 44, and Eduardo Hernandez, 55 were sentenced. They were named with nine others in a 23-count indictment that charged them with participating in a conspiracy that operated from August 2012 to May 2015 and stealing $30 million in high-value merchandise carried by semi-trucks.

The conspirators traveled throughout Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and other states, according to a release from Josh Minkler, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Members of the group would reconnoiter warehouse distribution centers run by national companies that distributed products including electronics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and cigarettes. The crooks would watch a center, then follow a semi-tractor and trailer leaving the building. They would steal the tractor and trailer when the driver stopped at a truck stop.

The crooks typically abandoned the tractor less than 20 miles from the truck stop and hooked up the trailer to another tractor driven by a member of their gang. The load would be driven to Louisville, Ky., where plans were made to resell the goods.

Three of the four sentenced in May had prior federal convictions for similar conduct. The four received sentences ranging from 150 months to 12 months imprisonment. Seven members of the conspiracy already had been convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from 96 months to probation.

The convictions were the result of a collaborative investigation by the FBI and the Kentucky State Police Vehicle Investigations branch with the assistance of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, Wythe County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Office, Fayette County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.