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HomeNewsPolice Arrest Multiple Suspects of the Extensive South Florida Retail Crime Ring

Police Arrest Multiple Suspects of the Extensive South Florida Retail Crime Ring

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Authorities recently uncovered a huge and well-organized criminal network. This crime network targeted big-box stores like Walmart, Walgreens, Publix, and Target. 

Source: Pinterest

The criminal group figured that it could carry out its illegal operations without attracting much notice. Sadly, the group committed crimes that cost businesses to lose over $20 million. Also, it affects the customers as the stores transfer these costs to them. 

The Retail Victims 

Numerous retail outlets suffered at the hands of the criminal organization. These retail outlets affected included Target, Costco, Macy’s, Sam Ash, Best Buy, Harbor Freight, The Fiddle Shop, Guitar Center, BJ’s, Winn Dixie, Navarro, Home Depot, Lowes, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Fresco Y Mas. 

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Source: NBC 6 South Florida/YouTube

The criminal group also targeted numerous pool equipment companies. The officials are still carrying out investigations to provide further details about the extent of this criminal network.

RICO Investigation

Miami-Dade Police officials started the investigations over nine months ago. To get the criminal group, the Office of Statewide Prosecution and law enforcement partners had to work together.

Source: NBC 6 South Florida/YouTube

The investigation started precisely in January. It was primarily focused on a group of individuals known as “boosters,” or those who shoplift goods with the intention of reselling them. 

The Scale of the Operation

These criminals operated on a large scale as the crimes did not happen in only a few places. They operated all across South Florida. 

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Source: Pinterest

The group has about 87 people who stole for several years. Their strategy was simplified yet very successful. All they did was break into these retail stores and take as many items as they could.

Large-Scale Theft Incidents

The affidavit filed for the case showed that numerous shoplifting incidents happened. Although the suspects carried out their operations very fast and swiftly, the shops suffered significant financial losses. 

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Stores reported thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods in several cases. An instance of this occurred when the offenders stole goods valued at around $11,400 from a Broward County Walgreens.

How the Group Operated

The suspects’ scheme involves printing and scanning their barcode labels and hiding the barcodes from the original manufacturer. The suspects would get a duplicate of the store’s master key. 

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Source: Pinterest

With the key, they were able to open glass display cases. After that, they loaded up shopping trolleys with different things and left the store without a second thought.

Items the Criminal Ring Stole

According to the authorities, the suspects were able to leave with items valued at around $5 million throughout the course of the nine-month investigation period.

Source: NBC 6 South Florida/YouTube

The suspects were able to get away with items such as DeWalt walkie-talkies, Reidel glassware boxes, many face cream and moisturizer boxes, various over-the-counter drugs, and Claratin. They took more expensive items like PCs, TVs, guitars, tools, and pressure washers. 

The Criminal Organization Chart Revealed

The investigators released the organizational chart of the criminal group. The chart showed how complex this illegal enterprise is. The authorities reported having caught several of the suspects.

Source: WSVN-TV/YouTube

Arland Cata and Joshua Markell were the key connectors on the chart. They each had two employees. The job of their staff included sorting, storing, packing, and exporting stolen goods. Ironically, charges related to the probe were brought against even these employees.

Cata, the First-Level Fence

The South Florida investigation pinpointed 44-year-old Arland Cata as the “first-level fence.” Cata kept the stolen goods the shoplifters stole in bulk. Sadly, the police found Cata murdered while he was staying at an Airbnb in September.

Source: WSVN-TV/YouTube

The windows and walls had bullet holes. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has an ongoing investigation into this incident. WTVJ-TV in South Florida reported that Cata might have been killed in the presence of his teenage daughter.

Cata’s House 

The police uncovered hundreds of boxes in Cata’s house. The boxes had unopened over-the-counter medication, cosmetics, and discarded anti-theft devices typically affixed to items in stores and removed upon purchase. 

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Loss-prevention representatives from prominent retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Home Depot were summoned to the location to inventory these items. The total value of the goods in Cata’s home exceeded $125,000.

Second-level Fence

Joshua Markell, aged 40, functioned as the “second-level fence” in the operation. Investigators noted that Markell was responsible for selecting which items would be sold on Amazon. Markell faces several charges. 

Source: NBC 6 South Florida/YouTube

These charges include fraud, conspiracy to commit racketeering, aggravated white-collar crime, money laundering, and dealing in stolen property. When Markell first met Cata, he got 30% of his supply. In no time, it increased to 50%.

Corporate Concerns

For many companies, organized retail theft is becoming a more serious problem. The National Retail Federation reports that several businesses have had to implement significant changes as a result of a rise in organized retail crime. 

Source: NewNation / X 

While some of the suspects have been arrested, the authorities are still carrying out investigations to unveil the full extent of this complex criminal network.

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