U.S. Charges 8 in Beer Heists That Targeted Trains and Warehouses

Eight Bronx men were charged on Wednesday with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of beer, mostly Modelo and Corona imported from Mexico, by robbing train yards and warehouses in dozens of thefts across the Northeast over the past two years.

An indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan accuses Jose Cesari as being the mastermind of what it describes as the “Beer Theft Enterprise” and says he recruited other participants in the brazen heists via Instagram posts.

In one post, the indictment says, Mr. Cesari wrote, “Need workers who want to make money.” The post had a “Yes” or “No” button, a moneybag emoji and a railroad track in the background, the indictment says. In another, the indictment says, he offered a “guarantee” that those he hired would “make 100k+ in a month” by following the “beer train method.”

Mr. Cesari, 27, who was at large on Wednesday, was charged with conspiracy to steal from interstate or foreign shipments by carrier and six other counts. The seven others face the same conspiracy charge, and several were also charged with other crimes.

Those charged as Mr. Cesari’s co-defendants are Kemar Bonitto, 38; Justin Bruno, 23; Miguel Cintron, 32; Antonio Gonzalez, 33; Luis Izquierdo, 40; Wakeim Johnson, 31; and Deylin Martinez-Guerrero, 28.

“Today’s arrests reinforce that the Beer Theft Enterprise’s staggering thefts will not be tolerated,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement.

The group usually operated under cover of darkness, the indictment says, with some members meeting in the Bronx before traveling to whatever rail yard or beverage distribution warehouse they planned to loot that night.

One or more of those charged would drive a vehicle to the targeted facility to be filled with cases of stolen beer, the indictment says. Often, a U-Haul box truck was used.

After arriving, according to the indictment, enterprise members would break into the rail yard or warehouse, sometimes by cutting a hole in fencing, and then drive the truck onto the property.

When stealing from a rail yard, the group’s members would cut the locks on railroad cars that contained sealed pallets of cases of beer, usually Corona or Modelo, the indictment says.

After unsealing the pallets and loading the beer onto the truck, the group’s members would take the stolen beer to the Bronx before selling it to unidentified buyers. Those who took park in the heists were paid hundreds of dollars for their efforts, the indictment says.

The indictment cites rail yards in Queens and Brooklyn and a beverage distribution warehouse in Suffern, N.Y., as among the group’s targets.

Mr. Bruno, Mr. Cintron, Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Izquierdo, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Martinez-Guerrero were scheduled to make initial appearances before Magistrate Judge Robyn F. Tarnofsky in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday. Mr. Bonitto was in custody in Connecticut, prosecutors said.

Joshua Horowitz, a lawyer for Mr. Johnson, declined to comment. Lawyers for Mr. Bruno, Mr. Cintron, Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Izquierdo and Mr. Martinez-Guerrero did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Information about lawyers for Mr. Cesari and Mr. Bonitto was not immediately available.

Source link