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01/14/2011

6 arrested in multi-state retail theft ring involving baby formula

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Six individuals who live in the High Point/Thomasville area in North Carolina were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents on Friday on charges that they were involved in an alleged conspiracy to steal baby formula from retail stores in several southern states.

Mario Miguel Torres-Guillan, aka Jorge Luis Robles-Rivera, 31; Denia Lizbeth Martinez, 27, Marco Antonio Ramirez-Iraheta, 27, and Marvin Lopez-Lopez, age 32, were arrested in North Carolina.

Two other members of the alleged conspiracy, Cris Alberto Paz, 24, and Douglas Ivan Martinez, 41, were arrested in Pennsylvania where they were in state custody.

ICE HSI special agents made the arrests pursuant to arrest warrants issued by the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on charges of conspiring to transport stolen baby formula in interstate commerce.

All of the defendants except for Torres-Guillan are also charged with the receipt and sale of stolen goods in interstate commerce. The charges carry a maximum potential penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the complaint, from November 2009 to December 2010, the defendants stole baby formula from retail stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. The stolen product was collected in rented storage units in the High Point/Thomasville area and then transported in bulk to the Los Hermanos grocery store in Union City, N.J.

Ali Siyam, owner of Los Hermanos, Hamad Siyam, and Rawhi Siyam were arrested Thursday as part of the alleged ring on charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.

The case was investigated by ICE HSI, the High Point, N.C., Police Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the Thomasville, N.C. Police Department.