Five residents of Miami-Dade County in Florida have recently been arrested in connection with a statewide organized cargo theft ring. An investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office, in conjunction with the Miami-Dade Police Department and local task forces, found that the suspects reportedly used a rental vehicle to travel outside Miami-Dade County in search of tractor-trailers that appeared easy to steal. After stealing the trucks, the suspects would then return to Miami to sell stolen merchandise on the black market.
Officials believe the suspects are guilty of involvement with seven separate cargo theft incidents, including thefts in Duval, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, and Polk counties. The most recent attempted theft took place in Jacksonville.
The suspects reportedly stole a truck containing tires worth $100,000 and another truck with $50,000 worth of sugar, among other items. Police told WJXT Jacksonville that the estimated value of the stolen merchandise totaled more than $1.2 million.
Each of the five defendants arrested in connection with the theft ring—Juan Carlos Almaguer, Alcide Frahuela Casanova, Cecilio Guillen, Yanier Torres, and Julio Vega (pictured)—face first-degree felony charges, including conspiracy to commit racketeering and grand theft cargo.
Cargo trailer security should be a top priority for retailers, as cargo crime remains a serious problem. Thieves are apparently obtaining more lucrative shipments, too: according to third-quarter (July-September) 2015 cargo theft statistics collected by FreightWatch International, cargo theft incidents reflected a 7% increase in value over the previous quarter. Data show that Florida ranks as the third most active state for reported cargo thefts (after California and Texas, respectively). Food and drinks are classified as the most stolen product category.
The CargoNet Command Center reported an average cargo theft loss value per incident of $187,490 and more than $175 million in total in 2015. For more information about last year’s cargo theft trends, see “CargoNet Releases 2015 Cargo Theft Trend Analysis.”