South America crime groups identified in ring targeting 26 Asian families in Colorado, Wyoming

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — The Fort Collins Police Department announced Tuesday that four suspects have been identified in a 2019 residential burglary spree targeting Asian business owners.

Three have been arrested and one remains a fugitive believed to be in South America, according to police.

“Today’s announcement highlights the increase in crimes against Asian Americans. We in Colorado won’t tolerate it. Those who commit crimes against an individual or community because of their ethnicity or cultural background must be held to account. I am proud of our collaboration with the Fort Collins Police Services and the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in pursuing justice for the 26 Asian business owners and their families who were targets of the home burglary criminal ring we uncovered,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

The series of residential burglaries began in January of 2019, where families of Asian descent were targeted by unknown suspects and were all local business owners, according to Fort Collins police.

Fort Collins police said it received reports of home burglaries from five separate families from January 2019 to April 2019.

Police said that in each case, suspects would target the family’s residence in broad daylight, knock on the front door for a few minutes to ensure no one was home, then forcibly enter through a door or an accessible window. Once inside, the suspects ransacked the home and took cash, jewelry, and safes. Investigators learned that cases with the same pattern were occurring across the country, reportedly being carried out by organized criminal groups with ties to South America.

During the investigation, police detectives determined the same three male suspects and one female suspect were participating as members of an organized crime group. In partnership with the FBI, detectives were able to gather evidence that ultimately led to the identification of three of suspects.

Detectives learned that 26 families, five in Larimer County, were victims in Colorado and Wyoming between January 2019 and July 2019. All are Asian business owners, and total loss from all burglaries is estimated between $1.3 million to $1.4 million.

Fort Collins police said that in July 2020, the grand jury issued indictments on the three suspects who had been identified:

  • Santiago Hoyos Gaviria of Miami, Florida (DOB 08/05/96)
  • Yenny Zoraya Rodas-Florez of Miami, Florida (DOB 10/08/90)
  • Jhon Eder Florez-Molina of Miami, Florida (DOB 12/13/92)

Fort Collins police detectives traveled to Florida and, in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals Service and FBI, located and apprehended Rodas-Florez and Hoyos-Gaviria in the Miami area. Following these arrests, FCPS detectives learned the identity of the fourth suspect, Carlos Geovanny Florez-Molina, 33, of Miami, Florida and obtained a warrant for his arrest.

On April 1, 2021, Carlos Florez-Molina was located and apprehended in Doral, Florida by a joint team of investigators from FCPS and the U.S. Marshals Service. Jhon Florez-Molina remains a fugitive and is believed to be evading arrest in Colombia, South America.

Police said the suspects have been charged with:

  • Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) – Pattern of Racketeering and Participating in an Enterprise (class 2 felony)
  • COCCA – Conspiracy (class 2 felony)
  • 24 counts – Second Degree Burglary to a Dwelling (class 3 felony)
  • 20 counts – Theft and/or Criminal Mischief (varying classifications)

“The 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is thankful to Fort Collins Police, the FBI, and the Attorney General’s Office for the extraordinary efforts they put into this investigation. Citizens across Larimer County, Colorado, and the country will be safer due to their partnership and commitment to solving these complex crimes,” said District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin.

Suspects arrested in Florida were extradited to Colorado and booked at the Larimer County Jail.

“The suspects in this international case brazenly victimized members of our community and beyond, and they will finally be held accountable,” said FCPS Criminal Investigations Assistant Chief Tim Doran. “Every crime is wrong, but one focused against a particular race or ethnic group is particularly reprehensible. I’m all the more proud of our detectives who spent over two years piecing this puzzle together. I’m also grateful for teamwork with local, state, and federal partners to help 26 families seek justice.”

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