LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Three Miami men arrested in connection with a series of frozen beef and pork thefts totaling $9 million from Midwest packing plants were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday, each on two counts of transporting stolen goods and possession of stolen goods, according to the indictment.
At the end of October, Florida authorities arrested Yoslany Leyva Del Sol, Ledier Machin Andino, and Delvis L. Fuentes, all from the Miami area.
The Lancaster County Sheriff's office in Lincoln, Nebraska, launched an investigation into the theft of several semi-tractors and trailers and loads of frozen beef in the county on June 27, 2022, in an operation described by federal and state law-enforcement officials as a "sophisticated organized criminal enterprise."
Each count of transportation of stolen goods and possession of stolen goods comes with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years with no minimum, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release. All suspects in the case are in the process of completing arraignment, or a formal reading of the charges.
In the initial Nebraska investigation authorities estimated the loss at about $1 million.
Since then, the sheriff's office and the Homeland Security Investigation unit in Omaha identified about 45 thefts that occurred across Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
On Oct. 20, law enforcement arrested the men and recovered three tractor trailers with stolen merchandise valued at about $550,000.
According to a complaint filed on Oct. 21 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Homeland Security began tracking the three men's movements as they trekked across the country.
On June 26 and June 27, the Lancaster County Sheriff was notified about the two thefts of semi-tractors and trailers loaded with beef valued at nearly $500,000, stolen from a location near Emerald, Nebraska, a tiny town just west of Lincoln. The trailers were recovered but were empty.
The Lancaster County Sheriff executed telephone tower dumps of the time and locations where the thefts occurred. According to the complaint, the sheriff found a cellphone number that allegedly belongs to Fuentes, a Miami Gardens, Florida, resident.
Law enforcement discovered, according to the complaint, that Fuentes had made about 165 calls to two other numbers registered to Del Sol and Andino.
"On or about Aug. 25, 2022, pursuant to a cell phone search warrant and cell site analysis, law enforcement learned that both Andino's and Del Sol's cellular telephones were physically present at the same locations in Nebraska at the same times as the aforementioned thefts," the complaint said.
Then, on or about Sept. 16, 2022, law enforcement allegedly observed through GPS tracking a semi-tractor registered to Del Sol traveling on Interstate 80 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"Within a few seconds, law enforcement observed two other semi-tractors with trailers following the semi-tractor registered to Del Sol," the complaint said. One of the semi-tractor trailers was registered to another individual not charged in the case.
"Video surveillance at a truck yard later revealed that on or about June 25, 2022, Fuentes, Del Sol, and Andino were together at a truck yard in Grand Island, Nebraska."
Law enforcement then proceeded to track their movement in September and October, eventually making the arrests in Florida.
Read more on DTN:
"Florida Men Arrested in Frozen Meat Thefts," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley
(c) Copyright 2022 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.