VCSO Joint Operation Results In Arrest Of 5 Retail Theft Ring Suspects; 1 Still Wanted

By on December 13, 2017 in WNDB News

Volusia and Seminole Counties, FL – The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office (VCSO) and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday afternoon the success of their joint-operation targeting a retail theft ring.

“Operation Blacklist” resulted in the arrests of 5 individuals involved in an organized retail theft ring. The VCSO says the crime ring has been in operation since 2013 and has averaged $10,000 a month in stolen goods from area retail stores.

Detectives believe the thefts of local Walmart, Target, and Publix stores totaled $360,000. A sports retail store in Lake Mary was also targeted by the ring. It is believed the suspects resold the stolen property on the street and sometimes bought drugs in exchange.

“The best way to fuel crime is to start with retail theft. That money is going somewhere, whether it goes overseas… or it’s going for drugs,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “I’m very proud of our detectives, working with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and the work that went into this investigation.”

“We’re very pleased at the results of this operation. We appreciate our relationship with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office,” said SCSO Chief Dan Purcell. “We still have some open investigations that we’re still looking at and we hope to bring those to fruition in the coming months.”

The investigation into the crime ring began after a shoplifting incident at a Walmart in Deltona on October 2, 2016. Two suspects were caught filling shopping carts several kinds of laundry detergent and cat food. The VCSO says this pattern was repeated at several retail stores.

The case started with the Deltona Walmart and expanded to an Orange City Walmart, a Deltona Publix, a Sanford Walmart, and a Sanford Target in late 2016. Detectives discovered several more Target thefts involving the same suspects and other members of the ring in Sanford, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, and Orange City. Some of those thefts go back to May of 2014.

In the last year, detectives watched surveillance video, viewed photos, conducted lineups and interviews, and utilized law enforcement databases to track down the suspects. The following men were arrested in connection with the crime ring:

Francesco Mazella, 35, of Deltona

  • Charges: racketeering, conspiracy to engage in pattern of racketeering activity, dealing in stolen property, delivery of cocaine, delivery of oxycodone.

Howard Proano-Tello, 26, of Orange City (wanted)

  • Charges: racketeering, conspiracy to engage in pattern of racketeering activity, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property.

Dalton Black, 24, of Deltona

  • Charges: racketeering, conspiracy to engage in pattern of racketeering activity, and dealing in stolen property.

Austin Black, 26, of Deltona

  • Charges: racketeering, conspiracy to engage in pattern of racketeering activity, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

Brandon Black, 27, of Deltona

  • Charges: racketeering, conspiracy to engage in pattern of racketeering activity, and dealing in stolen property.

Joseph Gonzalez-Cruz, 28, of Winter Park

  • Charges: dealing in stolen property.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.

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