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Dozens Arrested in South Florida in $20 Million Organized Retail Theft Scheme to Defraud

December 15, 2023

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Person Shoplifting as Authorities Arrest Individuals Involved in a Retail Theft SchemeMiami-Dade detectives, along with state and federal law enforcement authorities, arrested multiple defendants less than a few months ago who were allegedly acting as part of an extensive crime ring. These individuals were accused of ripping off large retailers and reselling the items. The alleged victims included Publix, Walmart, Target and Walgreens. According to authorities, the crime ring which operated throughout South Florida, consisted of approximately 87 individuals who carried out a series of thefts from big-box retailers over a nine-month period. Investigators believe that thefts resulted in over $20 million in retail losses.

Authorities claimed that Arland Cata was at the top of the organized scheme to defraud and handled the majority of the stolen products. Items were valued and those who engaged in retail were compensated for what was stolen. The items were then resold online for below-fair market values. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody claimed that crimes of this nature hurt not only the retail stores but also customers as the costs are passed on to them who end up paying higher prices. "These criminals cause these expenses to businesses, and they are then passed on to you and me," Moody said. "All law-abiding Floridians pay when they go to the cash register.", added Moody.

The person's involvement in this operation will determine the ultimate charges they will face in court. The individuals who committed the shoplifting with be charged with petit or grand theft depending on the value of the items stolen. Under Florida law, theft is committed if a person knowingly obtains, uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person or party of the right to the property. Grand theft first-degree is committed if the stolen property is valued at $100,000 or more. If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, the offense of grand theft second degree would apply. Grand theft of the third degree is applicable if the property stolen is valued at $750 or more, but less than $20,000.

Handcuffs and Wads of Money Representing the Penalties Involved in Organized Fraud Charges
The individuals arrested for planning and operating the ring will likely be charged with "Organized Scheme to Defraud". This means a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act. The potential penalties for operating an Organized Scheme to Defraud depend on the loss amount. If the value is $20,000 and above, but below $50,000, it is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the value is $50,000 or above, it is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Theft and fraud cases are among the most commonly charged crimes in Miami-Dade County and South Florida. Anyone being investigated for or charged with theft or fraud should contact and seek the advice of a Florida fraud defense lawyer with solid experience in handling these types of cases. The criminal lawyers at DMT Law have represented clients charged with these offenses for years. If you, a loved one, or someone you know is being investigated for a theft or fraud case, contact us today, so we can protect and defend your rights.
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