A criminal ring out of Mexico hit American retail business for quite a while but has finally been busted by law enforcement.
For at least the past decade, Tijuana vendors put in special orders for designer merchandise, dispatching teams of shoplifters to malls around the country to steal more than $20 million in loot that could be resold at lower prices in Mexico, according to an indictment unsealed in San Diego federal court Wednesday.
Sara Portilla, who manages a boutique in Tijuana, and Maria Angelica Mendez Valdivia, both San Diegans, are accused of fencing the stolen goods in the store and at Mexican swap meets with the help of Jose de Jesus Mora, said David Shaw, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego.
The 38 thefts in the indictment range from June 13, 2008, when one defendant is accused of trying to drive over an Abercrombie & Fitch employee in National City, to July 27, 2017, when several defendants stole about $5,500 in merchandise from an Abercrombie store in San Diego.
The thieves typically stole thousands of dollars in merchandise each time, including $5,000 from an American Eagle store in Visalia, $4,500 from a Victoria’s Secret in Escondido, $10,600 from a Tommy Hilfiger store in San Clemente and $6,700 from a Las Vegas Victoria’s Secret, the indictment alleges.