Miami police busted a crime ring Tuesday that allegedly used Instagram to target wealthy victims and steal jewelry worth up to millions of dollars, with investigators using the accused ringleader’s own Instagram posts to help bring down the enterprise.
- Xandi Garcia, 30, was the ringleader of the group, The Miami Herald reported, with investigators saying Garcia used Instagram to flaunt a range of stolen luxury jewelry, clothes and other pricey goods.
- Garcia’s girlfriend, 32-year-old Instagram model Maybel Sanchez, also posted to the social media app, flaunting a diamond pendant and Rolex watches stolen by the ring, according to multiple reports.
- Garcia, Sanchez, and at least seven other members of the crime ring were charged with racketeering, conspiracy and burgling Tuesday the Herald reported, for a spate of burglaries and other infractions committed over the past two years; Garcia’s 58-year-old mother, Mirta Lota, is charged with laundering money for the group.
- Police say Garcia’s ring would stalk potential victims by first identifying their lavish lifestyle posts on Instagram, then install GPS devices on the victims’ cars to track them.
- But Instagram posts from Garcia’s team, police claim, left clues, with a sweatshirt worn by suspect Daniel Pacheco matched to surveillance footage taken at one of the burglary scenes.
- The team had allegedly been targeting Yankees star pitcher Aroldis Chapman, the Herald reported, even going so far as to record video footage of the ballplayer’s home.
Surprising fact: The crime ring also allegedly operated five marijuana grow houses to help fund their enterprise, according to the Washington Post. Police were first tipped off about the grow houses in an investigation they called “Operation Growing Pains, which led them to discovering evidence of the jewelry heists.
Big number: $600,000 to $1.7 million. That’s the value of the jewelry stolen by Garcia and his ring, according to multiple reports.
Crucial quote: “The way this group worked was very much like seasoned police investigators,” said Florida state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in a Tuesday press conference. “This group would collect, synthesize and disseminate information on their potential targets from a variety of sources.”
Key background: Garcia was already in custody Tuesday, having been charged for burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property connected to the theft of $1.7 million worth of jewelry from celebrity jeweler Eric “Eric The Jeweler” Mavashev. The other nine suspects are also being held in a Miami jail awaiting trial. An anonymous tipster alerted Miami police to Garcia’s attempted sale of a valuable, custom ring that was taken from Eric The Jeweler, leading to his arrest. Before that, Garcia was well-known to Miami police, having been charged in 2018 for trafficking in connection to another marijuana grow house. Garcia was given probation for the 2018 charge after offering up information that led to the arrest of a Miami police officer charged separately with dealing in stolen property and organized scheme to defraud.