The NYPD is actively conducting an ongoing search for seven individuals who are believed to be part of a highly sophisticated cellphone crime operation in New York City. According to authorities, this operation is allegedly being orchestrated by migrants residing in the city.
30-year-old Victor Parra has been identified by the police as the ring leader, believed to be the mastermind behind a 14-member operation. This operation involves hacking into stolen phones in order to drain victims’ bank accounts.
Investigators face a unique challenge as they have arrested seven suspects in the case, all of whom are migrants from Venezuela.
Cleyber Andrade, a 20-year-old, was arraigned on Tuesday evening and is currently being held on $10,000 bail. He is facing charges of six counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree and six counts of criminal possession of stolen property.
Juane Uzcatgui, 23, cannot be released on bail because the charges he is facing do not allow for bail. He is currently facing two counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree and two counts of stolen property.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Uzcatgui is not eligible for bail under the current statutory framework. The office is therefore requesting supervised release at the highest tier and level.
All the other suspects are set to appear in Bronx Criminal Court on Tuesday for their arraignment. They are facing multiple charges such as grand larceny, tampering with evidence, and criminal possession of stolen property.
According to authorities, a series of 62 phone thefts occurred, involving thieves riding scooters and mopeds. These criminals targeted women on the street and in the subway, snatching their purses and phones directly from their hands.
According to the police, the victims would be taken to the home of the alleged crew leader, where a “tech guy” would hack their phones to gain unauthorized access to their banking apps. This would enable them to make fraudulent purchases in the United States and Central America.
According to officials, the suspects managed to drain hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of their victims. Afterward, the phones were reportedly sent to Colombia, where they underwent a complete wipe to erase any evidence.
According to the police, Parra, who is currently being sought, operated the criminal network of migrants primarily residing in the city from his apartment. Parra arrived in the country from Venezuela last year and had a court appearance in December on a grand larceny charge.
Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny stated that the crew utilizes social media platforms as a means to plan and execute their thefts. According to Kenny, the leader of the crew, Victor Parra, takes to WhatsApp to send out a message indicating his search for phones.
According to authorities, a scooter operator could earn around $100, while a phone snatcher could make anywhere between $300 and $600.
During a search on Monday, the police were able to recover 22 stolen phones and the victim’s identification from Parra’s home.
The string of thefts began in November 2023 on the Upper East Side, with the most recent incident taking place in Chinatown on Sunday night. These thefts have been reported in all boroughs except Staten Island, with Manhattan accounting for nearly 56% of the total incidents.
During a recent interview in Albany, Mayor Eric Adams was questioned about the possibility of issuing an executive order to remove the existing restrictions that hinder the collaboration between the NYPD and ICE.
“I believe that individuals who commit multiple felonies in our city should be held accountable by the federal government and deported from our city,” stated Adams. He emphasized the importance of recognizing the privilege of being in the United States and participating in the American Dream. Adams acknowledged that he does not possess the authority to carry out deportation, as it would require the decision-making power of the City Council.
The news arrives amidst a flurry of updates and developments.
After placing only one of the several migrants suspected of assaulting two police officers in Times Square in custody, the remaining four were released without bail.