UC, NB men indicted for roles in alleged $1.5 million cargo theft ring

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Eight of the 12 men indicted on charges of conspiring to steal $1.5 million via a tri-state cargo theft ring that including clothing products, auto parts and beer are from either Union City or North Bergen, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman announced today. 

Yoanny Justiz, Marvin Quezada and Horacio Llerena-Martinez, of North Bergen and Union City, were indicted as part of the state's Operation Midnight Run.
Yoanny Justiz, Marvin Quezada and Horacio Llerena-Martinez, of North Bergen and Union City, were indicted as part of the state’s Operation Midnight Run.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The indictment, which was returned yesterday, stems from Operation Midnight Run, a long-term investigation by the New Jersey State Police Interstate Theft North Unit, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Border Enforcement Security Task Force.

The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau obtained an 11-count state grand jury indictment that charges all 12 defendants with first-degree conspiracy, authorities said.

Furthermore, Eleven of the defendants also are charged with first-degree money laundering, second-degree theft by unlawful taking, second-degree fencing, second-degree receiving stolen property, and third-degree burglary, officials said.

The first-degree money laundering charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in state prison.

The 12 members of the cargo theft ring allegedly worked together in various combinations to steal tractor-trailers containing cargo from the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. They allegedly brought the stolen cargo to warehouses and lots in New Jersey, Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Bronx, N.Y.

The indictment alleges that between June 2012 and April 2015, the defendants engaged in nine thefts and two purchases of additional stolen goods in which the total value of the cargo, combined with the tractor-trailers stolen exceeded $1.5 million.

The stolen cargo ran the gamut from $120,000 worth of catalytic converters, which allegedly were stolen in Linden and recovered by investigators at a warehouse in Saddle Brook.

Another example of stolen cargo included $165,000 worth of Moroccanoil hair and body products stolen in Allentown, Pa. transported through New Jersey to a lot in the Bronx, N.Y.

One other specific example of the alleged theft was $152,000 worth of GNC fish oil capsules stolen in Paterson, N.J. and recovered at a furniture store in Hillside, N.J.

“We allege that this ring was stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cargo and transporting it through New Jersey on a regular basis so that they could fence the stolen products and reap major profits,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“Their conspiracy did not stop at our state borders, and neither did our investigation, thanks to our partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We tracked these alleged thieves across three states and hundreds of miles of highway to ensure that they were held accountable for the full scope of their crimes.”

The following 12 defendants were indicted: (Carlos Toriac-Almira is charged with first-degree conspiracy and third-degree receiving stolen property, but he is not named with the other 11 defendants in the first-degree money laundering count or the other counts previously specified):

Yoanny Justiz, 32, of North Bergen

Luis Requena, 24, who was deported after his arrest in 2013,

Marvin Quezada, 40, of Union City

Pedro Arias, 68, of Elizabeth

Horacio Llerena-Martinez, 55, of North Bergen

Osmay Perez-Herrera, 51, of New York, New York

Wilson Ferrer-Reyes, 51, of Union City

Hector Rivas, 38, of Union City

Kenneth Manus, 61, of Norwood

Angel Dominguez, 44, of Union City

Carlos Toriac-Almira, 36, of Union City

Luis Marin, 46, of Union City