Law Enforcement Indicts Leaders of Eastern U.S. Cargo Rings

The Department of Justice and the Polk County (FL) Sheriff’s Department announced indictments of leaders in two multi-state cargo theft rings. The federal indictments covered eight individuals suspected of stealing millions of dollars in cargo moving through several Midwestern and southern states. The Polk County indictments cover six individuals suspected in a string of cargo and storage facility thefts in Florida.

The multi-state cargo ring organized thefts and storage of the stolen cargo in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Law enforcement coordinating at the local, state, and federal level investigated schemes that would begin with surveying distribution facilities used by national companies to ship product. The ring would then follow individual tractor-trailers until the driver stopped to rest or refuel the truck, at which point the ring would work together to steal the entire loaded tractor-trailer. Investigators estimate the total value of the stolen merchandise at over $17.5 million.

In Florida, a former sheriff’s deputy and police officer (who also worked as a minister) currently employed as a trucker was the main subject of a multi-agency investigation for stealing merchandise from trucks he drove in Florida. Following tips from Macy’s about thousands of dollars in missing items from a delivery, authorities investigated the driver and found 660 boxes of stolen merchandise in three storage units in Tampa and Ybor City. In total, the stolen merchandise totaled $267,900 in value. Authorities charged the driver and three accomplices who assisted in thefts from company storage facilities and who staged “burglaries” of the storage units filled with stolen goods, as well as two drivers suspected of unconnected but similar crimes.

Cargo theft remains a major issue and can have an enormous impact on your bottom line. To help members protect their businesses, the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) offers a Framework to Combat Fraud, which is available to all members through the TIA website. Members also need to remember to utilize TIA Watchdog before arranging freight transportation. For more information on the Framework to Combat Fraud or TIA Watchdog, please contact Will Sehestedt at or 703-299-5713.