SAN FRANCISCO—On September 30, a team of four state and local law enforcement officers had a warrant to raid 11 storage units, three homes, and two warehouses, which resulted in the revealing of an intricate theft ring. About $8 million worth of stolen property from burglaries and break-ins from retail stores across the Bay Area were found, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on October 6. Most of the stolen goods were from drug stores such as Target, CVS, and Walgreens.
According to a statement released by Becerra, the $8 million in stolen merchandise has been recovered, as well as $85,000 in cash retrieved from the suspects’ residences and storage facilities. Five suspects have been arrested and are facing a variety of charges. They were identified as Edgar Geovany Robles Morales, Isis Vasquez Villanueva, Jose Villatoro, Danny Louis Drago, and Michelle Renee Fowler. Their charges include buying stolen goods and reselling them for profit, criminal profiteering, money laundering, conspiracy to commit a felony and possession of stolen property.
“Last Wednesday’s arrests are an example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies partner together to address serious crimes impacting our communities. Combining our officers, investigators, and resources paid off. The arrested suspects will now face judgement before a court of law,” Becerra said in a public press release on October 6.
According to investigators, officers suspected the operation since April. Over the past few months, various law enforcement agencies and detectives collaborated together to gather evidence and trace the locations the suspects were using, which eventually resulted in the theft-ring bust. Investigators had tracked down 16 different locations, and discovered that most of the stolen goods were being sold online and transported out of the country, with the profit being laundered back to the U.S. In other cases, the goods circled back to Ebay, Craigslist, and other other online marketplaces where they were sold at a steep discount to unknowing buyers.
The court proceedings are planned to take place at the San Mateo County Superior Court at a later date.