Midwest meat marauders thwarted as police arrest three men

October 28, 2022

Ryan Witkowski

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Police have arrested three men in connection with a multiple-state crime spree involving more than $9 million in meat thefts.

On Oct. 25, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the arrests in a news release. Yoslany Del Sol, Ledier Andino, and Delvis Fuentes – all from the Miami area – were arrested on suspicion of transportation of stolen goods and money laundering. According to officials, the trio is alleged to be connected to 45 thefts across Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, beginning in June 2021.

The stolen meat investigation began this year on June 27, when the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to the theft of several semi-trailers and loads of frozen beef valued at an estimated $1 million. At the time, investigators believed the thefts to be the work of an organized criminal enterprise targeting meat packaging plants. Three months later, another meat theft occurred in Lancaster County, with an estimated loss of approximately $750,000.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with Homeland Security Investigation-Omaha’s Major Crimes Task Force, used cellphone data and GPS tracking devices to place the three suspects around facilities that had been the site of numerous meat thefts.

According to court documents obtained by KELO-TV, investigators used cell tower data to obtain the phone number of one of the suspects. The number registered off the towers at each of the locations and near the approximate times the thefts occurred. Police discovered the number was registered to Fuentes, who also held a Class A commercial driver’s license.

By analyzing phone records from Fuentes, investigators were able to obtain the phone numbers of Del Sol and Andino – who both held valid CDLs. Using cell site analysis, police determined that both men were present at the locations of the meat thefts in Nebraska.

Around Oct. 13, police in Des Moines, Iowa, observed the three suspects “driving around semi-tractor yards at a low rate of speed.” At that time, officials believe the trio were “casing semi-tractor yards were trailers are commonly stored looking for product to steal.” The three were also observed that day doing the same thing in Sioux City, Iowa.

On Oct. 15, a trailer containing 19 pallets of ham – valued at around $40,000 – was stolen in Sioux Falls, S.D. The empty trailer was recovered later that day. GPS tracking data put the three suspects in the area of both the theft and the recovered trailer.

The next day, two semis and three electric pallet jacks were reported stolen from a warehouse in Pipestone, Minn. Again, GPS tracking and cell site data placed the three men in the area of the crime.

The Florida Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop of the tractor-trailer driver by Fuentes on Oct. 20. During the stop, Fuentes presented officers with a fake bill of lading and consented to a search of his vehicle and trailer. Upon inspection, police discovered the serial numbers on the containers were inconsistent with the bill of lading. Police say Fuentes was visibly nervous during questioning.

A short time later, Florida Highway Patrol officials located the other two suspects and their tractor-trailers parked at a commercial lot. During an inspection of the two trailers, officers discovered the stolen products from the theft in South Dakota as well as the three stolen pallet jacks from Minnesota.

The stops on Oct. 20 resulted in the arrests. The investigation into the string of meat thefts is ongoing. LL

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