Tuesday, January 21, 2003

More stolen loot found in warehouse


Four men held; no link seen to earlier case

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - For the second time in a month, police have made arrests in connection with stolen goods recovered in a warehouse district off Ohio 747.

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Blanco
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Horta
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Gonzalez
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Gutierrez
This time, the booty was an estimated $800,000 worth of stolen Levi jeans in 1,125 boxes, West Chester Township Police Chief John Bruce said. Four men were arrested after the jeans were discovered in a warehouse on Duff Drive. The FBI will be notified, he said.

"At this point, obviously, we are interested in getting the bigger picture," Chief Bruce said Monday. "Somebody doesn't steal a tractor- trailer full of jeans if they don't have somewhere to take them."

The tractor-trailer was taken from a truck stop in Walton, police said.

Each of the men's bonds was each set at $1 million Monday because police weren't sure of their identities and feared they would flee if released. They are being held at the Butler County Jail.

The driver of a stolen tractor-trailer used to bring the jeans to West Chester, Raul Blanco, 28, of Miami, Fla., was charged Monday with receiving stolen property and fleeing and eluding police.

Three men with Mr. Blanco were charged with complicity to receiving stolen property: Evelio Horta, 37, of Miami., Fla.; Noel Facundo Gonzalez, 36, no address available, and Recaredo Hugo Gutierrez, 28, of Miami.

The men were arrested about 5:45 a.m. Monday after police conducted surveillance on a warehouse in the 5200 block of Duff Drive.

The stolen tractor-trailer was spotted parked outside the warehouse. It had been reported missing from a truck stop in Walton about 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

When officers approached the four men Monday as they were about to leave the warehouse with the truck, all surrendered without incident except for the driver, police said.

Mr. Blanco stomped on the gas, sped the truck through a field next to the parking lot, crashed it into trees and ran.

He jumped into a parked, occupied pickup truck in a parking lot on Provident Drive but was apprehended moments later without incident, Chief Bruce said.

The Duff Drive warehouse is a few miles from one on Interstate Drive that West Chester police raided late last month. They received a tip from another law enforcement agency that a tractor-trailer full of stolen baby food was parked there.

Yemen-born Ali Kareem Aladimi and three other people have been indicted on federal charges involving the stolen Gerber baby food found in his West Chester warehouse.

Last week, federal authorities said they have not accused Mr. Aladimi, 41, of Beavercreek, Ohio, of terrorist activity. But they want him to remain in jail because they don't believe his explanations about his actions involving foreign nationals and large amounts of cash.

Chief Bruce said he does not think Monday's arrests are linked to Mr. Aladimi's case, nor does it lead him to believe West Chester's warehouse district is becoming a hotbed for stolen goods.

The district is off Ohio 747, which links Interstate 275 to the Michael A. Fox Highway to I-75.

"We don't have any information that this is more than what it is," the chief said. "Anytime you have as many warehouses as we have in this large an area, you are going to find stolen goods."

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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