Jewelry Crew Ringleader Gets About 4 Years in Prison for Stealing About $800,000 Worth of Goods

             A federal judge sentenced Federico ASantiago Quiroz Lucca, 52, a.k.a. Christian Sergio Alessandro Hernandez Valenzuela, rhe ringleader of a prolific robbery crew that targeted traveling jewelry salespeople, following them for many miles at times and stealing about $835,000 worth of goods, to 45 months in federal prison. Lucca also has to pay back $835,000. In December 2019, Lucca pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.

            From October 2017 until April 2019, Lucca and his co-conspirators surveilled and conspired to rob a series of jewelry salespeople and bank customers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the San Francisco Bay Area and Denver. Lucca led and organized the crew’s activities, enlisting help from several Colombian nationals who traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the conspiracy and robberies. He also used his apartment as a base of operations and meeting place where some co-conspirators lived, and equipment and stolen goods were stored. he various heists followed a similar pattern: a member of the crew known as a “scout” identified a victim who was likely to be carrying jewelry or cash. The victims typically were jewelers conducting business at jewelry stores or malls in Orange County, the Jewelry District in downtown Los Angeles, or at various trade shows. The scout followed the victim, and would wait for an opportunity when the scout and co-conspirators could rob the jeweler. The co-conspirators followed victims to locations such as gas stations and hotels, where the defendants used a ruse, such as puncturing a car tire to stop the victim, and then posed as a Good Samaritan, or simply used force, to rob the victims.

            For example, on February 8, 2018, Lucca and his crew spent four hours following a traveling jewelry salesman making rounds on behalf of his employer to jewelry stores in Orange County. As the victim returned to his car after stopping in Cypress, he was violently pushed from behind, falling into his car door, and his bag containing approximately $400,000 in jewelry was stolen.In a January 2019 incident, a couple who operated a jewelry business in Connecticut was participating in a jewelry show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, when a man wearing a yellow and orange safety vest asked to help them pack up their belongings. The man in the safety vest ended up pushing their large cart with all their belongings – including a bag containing approximately $400,000 in jewelry – and the bag was later discovered to be missing. Evidence subsequently developed by investigators determined that Lucca’s robbery crew had tracked the victims for days.

            Lucca and two co-conspirators were arrested in April 2019 in Northern California after they surveilled various locations, including jewelry stores, a residence, and the Santa Clara Convention Center, where a jewelry show was scheduled to occur. They have been in federal custody ever since. .

           Three of Lucca’s co-conspirators – Jose Manuel Lopez Molina, 48, a.k.a. Nestor Eduardo Munoz Laguna, of Colombia; Roberto Alonso Castellanos, 51, a.k.a. Pablo Garzon Leon, of Pomona, and; Jose Oscar Cupitre Nuñez, 48, of Australia, — pleaded guilty to criminal charges in this case. Castellanos and Molina received prison sentences. Nuñez’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 14. A fifth defendant, Roberto Melendez Falcon, 54, a.k.a. Arnulfo Delgado Rengifo, of Los Angeles, is scheduled to go on trial in this matter on January 26, 2021.

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