Broward County

Trio Arrested in Weston, Accused in $1 Million Cargo Thefts

Three men caught red-handed with $300,000 worth of stolen cargo, the FHP said

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Three men, suspected in at least five cargo thefts worth more than $1 million, were caught in the act and jailed, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Jose Batista-Suarez, 40, Rene Hechavarria-Echemend, 34, and Ernesto Aguilera-Baute, 36, were arrested Thursday on charges that include grand theft of cargo over $50,000 and fraud.

Broward Sheriff's Office
Ernesto Aguilera-Baute, Jose Batista-Suarez, Rene Hechavarria-Echemend

According to the arrest reports, one of the men posed as a Brian Gomez, a buyer with Supermarket Corporate Office. He ordered seafood from a supplier on five days between June 21 and July 29.  

A tractor-trailer would pick up the seafood from a warehouse in Medley. About 45 days after the first order, the supplier became suspicious and discovered there was no Brian Gomez working for a supermarket chain, the report stated.

An investigation was launched, and the tractor-trailer was spotted making a pick-up about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Medley. Detectives followed the truck and a red Mustang trailing it to a warehouse in Weston, the FHP said.

Investigators learned the trio communicated via cellphone to coordinate the cargo thefts. They also found an estimated $300,000 worth of seafood in the truck, the report stated.

All three were in the Broward County Jail late Friday. Hechavarria-Echemend was being held without bond. Aguilera-Baute has bonds totaling $60,000 and Batista-Suarez was being held on a combined bond of $24,000, records show.

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