Gold-theft ring busted; targeted Indian communities

Leo Stallworth Image
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Gold-theft ring targeted Indian communities
A ring of thieves who targeted Indian communities in Southern California and Nevada for gold and jewelry has been busted.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- A ring of thieves who targeted Indian communities in California and Nevada for gold, jewelry and cash has been busted.

Detectives brought down a sophisticated burglary ring involving a violent Long Beach street gang. Investigators say gang members used the Internet and other sources to find and target Indian residents, burglarizing their homes in Orange, L.A., San Bernardino and Ventura counties and in parts of Northern California. Detectives say the bandits also targeted victims in Nevada.

Investigators say the bandits stole portable safes stacked with gold bars, jewelry, money and more.

"They targeted this specific ethnic group because they know that they have money and that they have gold. That's their main thing that they focus on, the gold, to sell it, and the money obviously to keep it," said Long Beach Police Detective Abel Morales.

"So far there have been five suspects arrested in this case, and there are four still outstanding either with arrest warrants or wanted by police," said Ventura County Sheriff's Captain Don Aguilar.

Detectives say the suspects gained the trust of residents in Indian communities by dressing nicely, driving nice cars and being friendly. They say it was all a cover to find out when residents would be away from their homes before burglarizing them.

Detectives say the suspects bragged and showed off stolen loot on social media, which aided a multiagency task force in identifying them.

"They want to show it off so a lot of these are Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, where they're bragging, showing gold and cash from their robberies with their faces," said Ventura County Assistant Sheriff Gary Pentis.

"This investigation started in February of 2013. Information came forth as some of the burglaries were reported here in Ventura County," said Aguilar.

Investigators arrested brothers Ivan and Salvador Ramirez, who detectives say masterminded the burglary operation. Authorities say the suspects burglarized well over a hundred homes in about a year, netting millions of dollars. They say the bandits melted down gold bars and jewelry and sold it, using some of money to buy homes and other property in Mexico.

The suspects in custody are charged with multiple counts of residential burglary. Detectives believe two of the four suspects still outstanding have fled to Mexico.