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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
09/28/2010

12 indicted as part of Southwest Florida boat theft ring

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Nine individuals residing in Naples, Fla. and three men residing in Miami were charged in a federal indictment following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and the Collier County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).

Rene Blanco Nunez, 42; Remberto Blanco Martinez, 33; Jacqueline Galiano Anesto, 43; Heriberto Paez Reyes, 34; Mayque Aguilera Pulido, 30; Angel Alvarez Esquijarosa, 35; Francisco Munoz Cabrera, 29; Douglas Gainza Cespedes, 35 and Darinet Molina-Mata, 32, all of Naples and Reinier Pereda Montesino, 26, and Reynaldo Calatallu Garcia, 37, both of Hialeah, Fla.; and Javier Guevara Fernandez, 36, of Homestead, Fla., were charged in an indictment in the Middle District of Florida with conspiracy to transport stolen vessels in foreign commerce and nine counts of transporting stolen vessels. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on the conspiracy count and 10 years on each of the remaining nine counts, for a total of 95 years in prison.

All defendants except for Paez Reyes and Pereda Montesino made their initial appearance in federal court in Fort Myers on Monday before Magistrate Judge Sheri Polster Chappell and are scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 29. Paez Reyes and Pereda Montesino remain fugitives.

"Community boat owners should be able to enjoy the Florida waterways without fearing that their worthy possessions are going to be stolen by individuals who are driven by greed and whose mission is to conduct criminal activities at the expense of others," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa. "ICE Homeland Security Investigations special agents and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners dismantled a Naples-based criminal organization and prevented them from conducting additional criminal activities."

The indictment alleges that, between June 2007 and August 2010, the defendants conspired to transport stolen vessels worth a total of at least $1.5 million from Collier, Charlotte, Lee, Manatee, and Pinellas counties, to Mexico.

The investigation of the theft ring began in 2007 in response to a dramatic increase in thefts of luxury vessels from Southwest Florida. Local, state, and federal agencies formed an investigative task force known as "Island Runners" to target individuals suspected to be part of a Naples-based organization responsible for stealing vessels from waterfront homes in Southwest Florida and transporting those vessels to Mexico. During the course of the investigation, the task force not only gathered information leading to this indictment but also successfully disrupted the intended theft of numerous additional vessels.