A Twin Cities man has been charged in federal court in connection to an alleged international stolen cellphone operation. Prosecutors say the 42-year-old man and several members of his family are responsible for stealing thousands of cellphones over the past eight years, allegedly reselling them here in Minnesota and abroad.
At least 20 people have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to transport stolen goods across state line, according to news reports on the case. Seven of those individuals are members of single family, who prosecutors say were in charge of orchestrating the sophisticated criminal network.
The remaining defendants are accused of stealing cellphones and tablets, as well as helping to transport them out of the state. Several of the suspects are also facing conspiracy charges in connection to the alleged operation.
According to the charges, the stolen cellphone ring was operating in at least nine other states in addition to Minnesota, and that some of the phones were sold to overseas customers at premium prices. United States Attorney Andy Luger stated that a new iPhone can be sold for up to $1,200 in some parts of the world.
Here in Minnesota and around the country, law enforcement authorities report that cellphone theft has been on the rise. Although these thefts may often seem like petty street crimes, police say they are often part of larger criminal conspiracies such as the one alleged in this case.
Thus, although the value of any given item of stolen property may be relatively small, people accused of being involved in a criminal operation such as the one described here may find themselves facing criminal charges in federal court. If convicted, they could face years in federal prison along with financial penalties and other consequences.
Source: Pioneer Press, “Apple Valley man charged in worldwide stolen-cellphone ring,” Marino Eccher and Mara H. Gottfried, Aug. 12, 2014