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Seven arrested in multi-state ring that stole $4.6 million in jewelry

March 21, 2012 |  2:41 pm

Federal officials in Virginia have arrested seven people in a criminal ring that stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry in California and at least six other states, the U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday.

The thieves, part of an organized network with ties to South America, allegedly conducted surveillance on jewelry stores and then stole from traveling sales representatives, said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

They frequently used intimidation and violence, such as threatening the victims at knifepoint or puncturing their car tires, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The thieves then sold the stolen jewelry to businessmen to resell it or melt it down, federal prosecutors said.

“This tightknit group is accused of violently attacking traveling salesmen,” MacBride said in a statement. “This group did their homework. We allege they were dangerous, patient, extremely mobile and struck swiftly."

The thefts occurred in California, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and Tennessee, according to court papers.

Those arrested were Alexander Cuadros-Garcia, Leonardo Ortiz, Lucesita Argueta, Francisco Javier Montesrein-Rodriguez, Raul Antonio Escobar-Martinez, Jose Alfredo Rivero-Garcia and Juanita Diaz.

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