Twelve people have been indicted for their alleged roles in a boat-stealing ring that for more than three years targeted luxury vessels in southwest Florida, including at least one boat on Anna Maria Island, according to federal prosecutors.
Nine of the suspects are from Naples; two are from Hialeah; and one is from Homestead. Ten of the suspects made their initial appearances in federal court in Tampa on Monday and will be arraigned on Wednesday. The remaining two, Heriberto Paez Reyes, 34, of Naples, and Reinier Pereda Montesino, 26, of Hialeah, remain at large as fugitives, according to a news release.
Authorities, including members of a multi-jurisdictional task forced dubbed "Island Runners," say those indicted are suspected to be part of a Naples-based organization responsible for stealing vessels worth a total of at least $1.5 million and transporting them to Mexico.
"During the course of the investigation, the task force not only gathered information leading to this indictment but also successfully disrupted the intended theft of numerous additional vessels," the news release states.
Among the craft taken was a 30-foot 2007 Grady White stolen from Anna Maria Island. The date of the theft was not included in the release. Other boats were stolen in Collier, Charlotte, Lee and Pinellas counties, according to officials.
The thefts took place between June 2007 and August 2010, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
Those indicted face charges of conspiracy to transport stolen vessels in foreign commerce; and nine counts each of transporting stolen vessels. If convicted of all the charges they face up to 95 years each in federal prison.