Six men have been variously charged with burglary, grand larceny, conspiracy and other counts in connection with a scheme to break into stores and steal ATMs and other property. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell announced the 92-count indictment March 29.
The indictment covers incidents from June 2022 until January 2023 when four of the defendants were arrested in LaGuardia Airport following a 30-minute high-speed chase.The defendants are variously charged in a 92-count indictment with second and third-degree burglary, second-, third-, and fourth-degree grand larceny, possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief and other related counts. Many of the heists were captured on video surveillance.
“With today’s indictment, we have dismantled a brazen and persistent alleged burglary ring that targeted small businesses throughout the city," Gonzalez said. "Protecting businesses from break-ins and larceny is an important mission of my office and this case shows our commitment to spending the time and resources necessary to stop criminals from victimizing store owners.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as follows: Alex Torres aka “Chacho,” 50, charged with 80 crimes relating to 17 incidents; Francisco Torres aka “Fusion,” 51, charged with 62 crimes, relating to 13 incidents; Jesus Cedeno aka “Capone,” 52, charged 55 crimes relating to 12 incidents; Angel Barbosa aka “Pucci,” 44, charged with 48 crimes relating to 11 incidents; Chris Moustakos aka “Chris the Greek,” 52, charged with eight crimes relating to one incident; and Luis Villanueva aka “Cholo,” 52, charged with six crimes relating to one incident.
The defendants all reside in Brooklyn, except for Moustakos whose address is in Long Island. Charges against additional individuals who have assisted the ring are possible.
Alex Torres, Cedeno, Barbosa and Villanueva were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who ordered them held on bail and to return to court on June 7, 2023. Francisco Torres and Moustakos will be arraigned at a later date.
A total of 11 incidents charged in the indictment took place in Brooklyn, seven in Queens and one in the Bronx. The exact stolen amount in most of the incidents is not known. The largest known amounts are over $60,000 stolen from a wireless store and its ATM in Ridgewood, $20,000 stolen from an ATM from a Bushwick deli, and $6,000 stolen from a cash register of a Cypress Hills mini-mart.
Based on the investigation, which included review of surveillance footage, members of the ring allegedly used bolt cutters and other tools to gain access to stores. Then they rocked the ATM machines back and forth to dislodge them. Their roles in the alleged burglaries varied, according to video surveillance, but, generally, Alex Torres allegedly broke the bolts securing the ATMs and then helped carry them out of the stores. Francisco Torres allegedly was frequently the driver and helped to break stores’ doors. Barbosa and Cedeno allegedly generally acted as lookouts and also helped with breaking into stores. Based on the recovery of police scanners and other evidence, the ring allegedly assigned a member to monitor police scanners during the heists, so they could alert the others if police were approaching and to evade detection.
On October 26, 2022, Angel Barbosa was arrested for possessing a police scanner. Days later, on November 1, 2022, he was arrested in possession of two stolen ATMs, after he attempted to flee apprehension and drove into an occupied unmarked police car, injuring two officers.
The ring grew more cautious after that but continued the alleged heists, the investigation found. On January 18, 2023, Alex and Francisco Torres, Cedeno and Moustakos allegedly burglarized a bodega in South Richmond Hill, Queens, and were exposed by investigators. They then led the authorities on a high-speed chase from there, past Kennedy Airport and ended when their Ford van crashed into a barrier in LaGuardia Airport. The four were arrested and charged in connection with that burglary. The indictment supersedes both the November 1st and January 18th charges and adds numerous other crimes pertaining to most of the defendants.
“These charges put an end to the multi-borough burglary-and-theft spree that potentially netted the defendants tens of thousands of dollars. This lucrative scheme undermined public safety in New York City, and today’s indictment is the next step toward holding these men accountable for their numerous crimes” Commissioner Sewell said.