Nine Individuals Charged With Possessing Stolen Motor Vehicles Throughout New York City; Two Additional Defendants Charged With Trafficking Heroin
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today the unsealing of two indictments charging 11 for participation in a criminal network which operated out of New York, Queens, and Bronx counties. The indictments, unsealed in Bronx Supreme Court, came as a result of a two-year investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York Police Department’s Auto Crime Division involving the dismantling of high-end motorcycles for shipment to the Dominican Republic. The investigation was dubbed “Operation Steal Horses” after police were tipped off to the stolen motorcycle thefts being committed by a group of individuals referred to as a “Steal Crew” by investigators.
“Whether you are stealing high-end motorcycles or dealing drugs, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. My office will not allow New York to become a hotbed for international crime,” said Attorney General
“I commend NYPD Auto Crime Division and our partners with the Attorney General’s Office whose investigation led to the arrest of eleven individuals involved in this high end motorcycle theft ring,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
Members of the “Steal Crew” allegedly worked by canvassing the city for in demand motorcycles, such as Ducatis, which they would break the steering columns of and then lift off of the street and into a van for transport. Defendants would dismantle the motorcycles into parts and package them for shipment.
According to the 121 count indictment, the “Steal Crew” operated by using multiple individuals who brought different skills to the theft operation, including: a “steal man,” who specialized in breaking the locking mechanisms on motorcycles; a “lifter” who loaded the heavy motorcycles into a van; a “driver,” who provided the empty cargo-sized van to transport multiple motorcycles; and a “salesman,” who facilitated the quick transfer of the stolen motorcycle into buyers’ hands and who collected the profits.
The auto-theft indictment, unsealed today, names the following individuals:
- Juana Galarza of Bronx County, New York
- Pablo Nunez, of Bronx County, New York
- Brandon Williams, of Bronx County, New York
- Luis Vargas, of Bronx County, New York
- Carlos Valverde, of Bronx County, New York
- Jean Herrera, of New York County, New York
- Christian Perez, of Bronx County, New York
- Richard Lovell, of Easton, Pennsylvania
- Steven Reese, of Brooklyn, New York
Each of the 9 individuals named above has been charged with various Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Charges, as well as Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, for conspiring to steal and/or possess 32 stolen motorcycles and one Dodge Charger, which in total valued well over $100,000.
The long-term investigation involved renting a storage facility unit, and outfitting it with covert cameras to capture the defendants’ illicit activities. Law enforcement also utilized street-side covert cameras, confidential informants, and infiltrated undercover officers into the ring to establish how the organization functioned.
A separate drug indictment, also unsealed today, was filed against Juan Galarza, and two other individuals, Jeremey Collazo of Bronx County, New York, and Jhon Vasquez Ramos, of New York County, New York, for their alleged roles in selling Class A felony narcotic weight heroin in New York and Bronx Counties. Class A-I narcotic charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment for first-time offenders.
The arraignments of the defendants in custody will occur this afternoon in Bronx Supreme Court.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.