(NewsNation) — A crime ring targeting the Midwest’s meatpacking industry was uncovered by investigators after several semitrucks carrying meat were reported stolen.
The investigation began in Lancaster County, Nebraska, after the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office received reports of stolen trucks, and eventually grew to include multiple states and the Department of Homeland Security.
A total of $9 million worth of meat is believed to have been stolen. Forty-five trailers of stolen beef and pork have been identified during the investigation.
“When we initially took the portrait of the stolen trailers that we had discovered in Lancaster County, we discovered that these were stolen from Grand Island, central Nebraska, and that there were other loads of beef stolen from Sioux Falls, South Dakota,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner. “We knew that there had to be a common denominator. So, deputies continued to work this case to kind of peel back the layers, if you would. We worked together with Homeland Security Task Force, and just gathered information to identify three men that were eventually arrested last week in Florida.”
The three men arrested in connection with the crime ring were Ledier Machin Andino, 37, Yoslany Leyva Del Sol, 38, and Delvis Fuentes, 39.
“They would basically hop in a tractor with no trailer, drive from Florida, and then sort of patrol the areas where meatpacking plants were prevalent,” Wagner said. “They would identify a staging area for trailers that were loaded and waiting to be transported and they would just hook on to one of those trailers. Had a false bill of lading. And then would just take off with the meat. They would then offload that into another stolen trailer and haul it to Florida.”
Wagner said it took so long for the crime ring to be identified because various law enforcement agencies were not communicating reports of stolen trailers among each other.