SAN FRANCISCO—A Quickly Boba tea shop was discovered to be a front for an international fencing ring as first announced by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, May 10.
A total of 130 boxes of stolen electronics were seized from the location on Larkin Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. The suspect, Quoc Le, 41, was arrested Monday, May 9, and is currently facing dozens of felony and misdemeanor charges. His wife, who owns the Taiwanese based company, is not facing any charges.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that the discovery was part of a larger investigation known as Operation Auto Pilot which has been in effect for two years. Officials used bait cars that were placed in locations known to be high in property crime, like Japantown and Alamo Square, to help track stolen goods. Inside the bait cars were electronics that had tracking devices linked to them. According to Boudin, the goal was not to arrest thieves but to see how far the stolen goods would travel.
“The goal of this operation was to map out the flow of stolen goods in San Francisco and beyond, to identify the networks that are moving millions and millions of dollars of stolen goods from cars in San Francisco around the country and the world,” said Boudin in a statement.
According to officials, illicit resale of electronics and vehicles reached as far east as Vietnam and Hong Kong. A large volume of wares were also being shipped to Texas.
The operation was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, SF SAFE and local law enforcement. This case is currently ongoing.
Prior to Le’s arrest, the Quickly Boba tea shop was labeled as “shady” by many of its former patrons reaching as far back as 2016. One Yelp reviewer wrote that the shop was “sketch” because of the “pawn type deal going on in the back.”
Another former customer wrote back in 2018: “Wait this place is a Quickly’s? I guess I was so distracted by the amount of Mac desktops, laptops and iphones on the counter and floor I hadn’t noticed.”