New York City has seen a spike in crimes committed by illegal immigrants in recent weeks. Seven suspects were arrested in the Bronx Monday night by the NYPD after taking part in a string of cellphone robberies.
The suspects are associated with at least 62 robberies. The 14-member gang used mopeds and electric scooters to snatch items such as iPhones and wallets from their victims who were walking on the street or using the subway.
In a Monday afternoon news briefing, the NYPD named eight suspects connected to the robberies. Cleyber Andrada, Juan Uzcatgui, Yan Jimenez, Anthony Ramos, Richard Saledo, Beike Jimenez, and Maria Manaura were all arrested.
The ring leader, Victor Parra, 30, has yet to be captured. He is believed to be the mastermind behind the scheme. He would have someone hack the phones to get into the victims’ banking apps to make fraudulent purchases, ABC7 stated.
According to law enforcement, the suspects are presumed to be from Venezuela. NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban referred to the suspects as “ghost criminals” because they had no traceable information.
“They’re essentially ghost criminals. No criminal history. No photos. No cell phone. No social media. Sometimes, we’re even unclear on name or date of birth. And on top of that, these operations are extremely sophisticated,” Caban said. “In recent months, a wave of migrant crime has washed over our city, but by no means are the individuals committing these crimes representing the vast number of people coming to New York to build a better life.”
#Breaking⚠️: NYPD apprehends 7 migrants involved in a NYC series of robberies, part of a larger theft ring using mopeds to snatch phones and wallets.
He lived in city-run migrant shelters, sold stolen phones to the leader, who then hacked and drained bank accounts. pic.twitter.com/NGbjrTJk2M
— US-Crimes (@OfficialUScrime) February 6, 2024
According to officials, the men stole thousands of dollars from their victims’ bank accounts. Once the information was obtained, the suspects would allegedly send the phones to Colombia to be wiped clean.
So far, law enforcement has recovered 22 phones found in Parra’s home, along with victims’ identification.
With the recent crime wave, New York City Mayor Eric Adams did not want to state the obvious. Instead, he said the focus should be on anyone who breaks the law.
“This isn’t about the migrants and asylum seekers; this is about those who break the law. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and where you came from,” Adams stated.
Adams did, however, agree that illegal migrants who commit repeated felonies in the city should be deported by ICE. An executive order is in place that prevents the NYPD from collaborating with ICE. Adams reported that he did not “have the authority to do that.”
Besides trying to bring the rest of the criminals to justice, the NYPD is also looking into possible human trafficking in the shelters and still searching for a group of illegal migrants who attacked two NYPD officers over a week ago.