WEST NEW YORK, UNION CITY AND BEYOND --Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced in a press release dated April 5 the arrests of the alleged leader and two members of an organized theft ring that targeted around 70 Home Depot stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Arrest warrants have been issued for two more alleged members of the ring.
The ring allegedly conducted over 500 illegal transactions over a six-month period which cost Home Depot over $100,000 by allegedly "under-ringing" merchandise through self checkout areas in several stores per day.
The alleged ring leader, 49-year-old Julio Arriola Suarez of West New York, was arrested April 3 in Jersey City; 28-year-old David Pulgarin formerly of West New York and Union City was served a warrant April 2 at Allentown, P.A.'s Lehigh County Prison; and 30-year-old Julio Duque Barahona was served a warrant April 5 at Brocton, N.Y.'s Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility.
Forty-eight-year-old Nicolas Arriola Cortez formerly of Union City is sought on a warrant, as is 56-year-old Javier Duque Piza who is formerly of West New York.
A joint investigation by the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice and the U.S. Secret Service was conducted with assistance from the Home Depot Corporation, which resulted in the charges, the release stated.
"Organized retail theft is a growing problem in New Jersey and across the U.S. that retailers estimate costs them up to $30 billion a year," Chiesa said in the press release. "Our investigation uncovered a ring of foreign nationals who we allege were highly systematic and prolific in their thefts."
All five men are charged with second-degree crimes of conspiracy and shoplifting, and Suarez faces a second-degree charge of leading an organized retail theft enterprise, the release stated.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison with fines up to $150,000.