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PSLPD: Member of Columbian Theft Group, Arrested in Port St. Lucie for Burglary Targeting Asian Business Owners

Angel Rojas-Morales
Angel Rojas-Morales

Port St. Lucie - Wednesday April 17, 2024: Port St. Lucie Police (PSLPD) have arrested a member of a criminal theft ring operating out of Columbia who is accused of burglary and grand theft. The arrest is the latest example of what law enforcement authorities say is a nationwide trend of crimes being committed by South American Theft Groups, a trend that has already earned its own acronym, SATG.

PSLPD detectives arrested 20-year-old Angel Alejandro Rojas-Morales on December 26th last year, according to a news release from PSLPD Master Sgt. Dominick Mesiti. Rojas-Morales has been charged with two felony counts of Burglary to a Dwelling, one count of Criminal Mischief Under $1,000, one count of Grand Theft, and one count of Tampering with a Utility Fixture.

The PSLPD investigation began the month before, on November 27th, when Port St. Lucie police received a report of a residential burglary in the 600 block of SW Addie Street. A safe containing several pieces of jewelry, and $10,000 in cash was stolen. A witness interrupted the burglary, and was able to provide police with a description of the five suspects and two suspect vehicles. One of the vehicles was a black Kia Sedona.

PSLPD detectives worked the case and learned of similar robberies in other south Florida jurisdictions, including the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the General Investigations Unit from the Doral Police Department and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Burglary Apprehension Team.

Together with the South Florida Task Force, detectives from these various agencies identified several other suspect vehicles. Mobile surveillance of those vehicles was conducted.

On December 5th, the Broward County Sheriff's Office Burglary Apprehension Team was conducting mobile surveillance on several of the suspect vehicles, including the Kia Sedona used in the Port St. Lucie burglary. During that surveillance, they witnessed seven suspects participating in the burglary of a home in the 9900 block of NW 25th Terrace in Doral.

Three suspects forcibly entered the residence. They have been identified as: 24-year-old Camilo Andres Charria Cardona, 27-year-old Jarol Duvan Zuluaga Leon and 22-year-old Kevin Santiago Cruz Carrera. 28-year-old Charley Andrey Vega-Perea waited behind in the Kia.

The other three suspects, 28-year-old Kevin Yesid Zuluaga, 25-year-old Paula Vanessa Echavarria Cruz, and Angel Alejandro Rojas-Morales, acted as lookouts in various areas of the neighborhood.

Once the burglary was concluded, and the 7 suspects had returned to their vehicles, the takedown order was given. All seven men were taken into custody and charged.

PSLPD detectives followed up and went to Doral to question the suspects. They learned that Rojas-Morales, and the other suspects, were from Columbia and were part of a SATG, a South American Theft Group.

This group targets the homes of Asian business owners. They were highly organized, conducted counter surveillance and utilized hidden GPS trackers, hidden video surveillance cameras, and radio jammers to interrupt and obstruct police communications during their burglaries.

The PSLPD detectives also learned that in Colombia, Rojas-Morales was a good friend of one of the other Doral robbery suspects, 24-year-old Camilo Cardona. Cardona asked Rojas-Morales to come to America and Rojas-Morales came, illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico into Texas in early 2023. From Texas, Rojas-Morales traveled to New York where he met another Doral robbery suspect, Charley Vega-Perea.

They formed a SATG, a robbery crew, and traveled to Florida where they joined with other Columbian immigrants and began committing burglaries in south Florida as part of an organized group. Rojas-Morales was directly involved in the Port St. Lucie burglary and confessed to stealing the safe out of the home, according to the PSLPD news release.

PSLPD Detectives continue to investigate the additional suspects in an effort to develop probable cause for their arrests.

Chief Richard Del Toro stated, “The city of Port St. Lucie is not immune to the nationwide issue of illegal immigration that results with innocent citizens becoming victims of crime. The Port St. Lucie Police Department will vigorously investigate these types of crimes and will relentlessly pursue any and all suspects involved and bring them to justice.”

Rojas-Morales is currently being held at the St. Lucie County Jail on an ICE Hold.