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Man 1 of 7 arrested in Colombian theft ring targeting Asian business owners

Angel Alejandro Rojas-Morales, 20, and 6 others used counter surveillance, hidden GPS trackers, and radio jammers during burglaries
Posted at 5:04 PM, Apr 17, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant is being held at St. Lucie County Jail after police said he participated in a Colombian theft ring that targeted Asian business owners.

Port St. Lucie police said they arrested Angel Alejandro Rojas-Morales on Dec. 26, 2023. He faces numerous charges, including burglary to a dwelling, criminal mischief, grand theft and tampering with a utility fixture.

PSLPD said the investigation began on Nov. 27, 2023, when they received a report of a residential burglary in the 600 block of Southwest Addie Street, where a safe, $10,000, and several pieces of jewelry were stolen. A witness interrupted the burglary and was able to relay a description of the five suspects and two suspect vehicles, including a black Kia Sedona, to responding officers.

Following a lengthy investigation, several additional suspect vehicles were positively identified, and mobile surveillance of these cars was conducted.

The following month, the Broward County Sheriff's Office Burglary Apprehension Team on Dec. 5, 2023 conducted mobile surveillance on several cars, including the Kia Sedona used in the Port St. Lucie burglary. While surveilling, they discovered a residential burglary was in progress in the 9900 block of NW 25th Terrace in Doral. They witnessed a total of seven suspects participating in the organized burglary.

Three suspects identified as Camilo Andres Charria Cardona, 24, Jarol Duvan Zuluaga Leon, 27, and Kevin Santiago Cruz Carrera, 22, forced their way onto the home, police said, while the driver of the Kia, Charley Andrey Vega-Perea, 28, waited in the car. The other three suspects, Kevin Yesid Zuluaga, 28, Paula Vanessa Echavarria Cruz, 25, and Rojas-Morales, acted as lookouts in various areas of the neighborhood, police said.

All seven suspects were taken into custody following the burglary, Port St. Lucie Police said.

According to police, the investigation revealed Rojas-Morales was part of a Colombian South American Theft Group (SATG) that targets Asian business owners’ residences while they are not home. The group used counter surveillance, hidden GPS trackers, hidden video surveillance cameras, and radio jammers to interrupt and/or obstruct police communications during the burglaries.

Port St. Lucie police said Rojas-Morales was friends with Cardona in Colombia and Cardona asked Rojas-Morales to come to America. Police said Rojas-Morales “illegally crossed into the United States of America from Mexico into Texas in early 2023.” From Texas, Rojas-Morales traveled to New York where he met Vega-Perea.

According to police, the group then traveled to Florida where they joined with other Colombian immigrants and began committing burglaries in South Florida as part of an organized group. Rojas-Morales was directly involved in the Port St. Lucie burglary and confessed to stealing the safe out of the home, police said.

PSLPD detectives continue to investigate the additional suspects in an effort to develop probable cause for their arrests.

“The city of Port St. Lucie is not immune to the nationwide issue of illegal immigration that results with innocent citizens becoming victims of crime,” Chief Richard Del Toro said. “The Port St. Lucie Police Department will vigorously investigate these types of crimes and will relentlessly pursue any and all suspects involved and bring them to justice.”

Rojas-Morales is currently being held at the St. Lucie County Jail on an Immigration Customs and Enforcement hold.