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Ecuadorian native charged in 2007 outlet-mall shoplifting racket www.privateofficer.com
Orlando Fla Dec 3 2012 A woman arrested last weekend is accused of being one of the leaders of an outlet-mall shoplifting crew that stole more than $100,000 worth of clothes and shoes from high-end stores in Orlando for resale in her native Ecuador.
Susana Castillo, 52, was arrested Sunday for her alleged role as a conspirator in a five-person crew that allegedly ripped off stores in 2007.
Orange County Sheriff’s detectives rounded up the crew in 2007 after receiving a tip that Castillo periodically flies to Orlando from the Bronx to shoplift and sends the goods out of the country.
She was arrested in 2007 and pled not guilty to a grand-theft charge, which was eventually dropped.
Detectives continued to investigate, however, and charged Castillo and her fellow defendants with conspiracy to commit grand theft in connection with the 2007 case.
Ingrid Flores, 24, Rosalba Cedeño, 42, Sonia N. Varela de Pachay, 51, and Christian Alfredo Marin, 24, are the other suspects.
Investigators followed the group in September 2007 as they left their Orlando hotel in a rented minivan to go to the International Drive outlets, where they pulled off a well-choreographed theft.
They targeted stores like DKNY, Nike, Adidas and Fossil and followed each other into each business to fill foil-lined shopping bags with dozens of items.
The foil helped them avoid activating security devices, court documents show.
The bags were empty when the accused thieves entered a store and were bulky as they came out, records show.
In a matter of minutes, they lifted up to $5,000 worth of merchandise from a single store. In all, the crew is accused of stealing more than 3,400 items from 30 separate businesses.
Investigators said the shoplifters wrapped the clothing in black trash bags, took them to their vehicle and stored them in an empty hotel room adjacent to the room they used to sleep.
The items were to be shipped by mail or boat to South America and resold at Cedeño’s business in Ecuador, according to court documents.
After documenting the operation with pictures and video, detectives made the arrests in early October 2007.
They tracked Castillo and her crew to a storage unit and hotel to take them into custody. Inside the crew’s van, detectives found bags, duct tape and maps of Orlando that had the outlets circled.
Four of them pled not guilty in 2007 but the cases were closed. The final outcome of those cases was not clear Tuesday.