Five people face conspiracy charges after organizing the theft of fuel from Tampa Bay area ranches, farms and businesses and sold it to commerical truckers and transport businesses, state authorities said.
The arrests were the result of an investigation in Hillsborough and Manatee counties that began in July 2013, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
The group was also believed to be involved in the theft of watercraft, motor vehicles and motorcycles, as well as the operation of a counterfeit credit card operation to purchase items from area businesses, the FDLE said.
Taken into custody were Yasmani Cruz Hernandez, 26, Yosvani Alvarez Guzman, 31, and Yaima De Las Mercedes Suarez, 22, all of 8521 N. Boulevard, Tampa; Mario Capote, 36, of 4725 Christa Court No. 328, Tampa; and Yuniel Benet Doval, 26, an inmate in the Manatee jail.
Charges include violation of Florida’s Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization laws, conspiracy to commit RICO, grand theft and burglary.
Investigators said diesel and gasoline was stolen from the farms and businesses in both counties.
The case was investigated by the FDLE, and Hillsborough and Manatee county sheriff’s offices. The case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office, the FDLE said in a news release.
Additional arrests are expected.