Luxury home burglary wave: LAPD, Scottsdale police intensify efforts against organized South American gangs

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LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has initiated a task force to combat the increasing incidence of Latin American gangs targeting upscale residences in Southern California.

LAPD’s Chief Dominic Choi stated that there has been a significant uptick in burglaries carried out by organized groups primarily originating from Chile, with individuals also originating from Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

These groups are suspected of exploiting the 2014 visa waiver program, which allows travel to the U.S. for tourism or business without a visa requirement.

"I can tell you that we have a significant increase in burglaries from organized groups that are outside this country, that are coming into the country, and they are targeting high-end residents," Chief Dominic Choi said.

Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton mentioned that these burglars tend to eschew firearms to avoid potential gun charges and may employ jamming devices to disrupt home security systems. "They sometimes carry jamming devices to disable home security systems," he said.

Meanwhile, in Scottsdale, Arizona, law enforcement has made three arrests linked to "dinner-time burglaries," part of a broader series of thefts attributed to South American crime rings.

The arrested individuals, including Grecia Romanduski Gaete Castillo, a 32-year-old from Chile, were apprehended without firearms and are facing charges related to conspiracy and burglary.

Scottsdale residents have expressed concern over the professionalism and strategic nature of these criminal operations.

Police Chief Jeff Walther emphasized the gravity of the situation, noting that the apprehended individuals admitted to engaging in interstate criminal activity, including burglaries in California.

The crimes have prompted heightened vigilance among residents, with some considering upgrades to home security systems.

Dwayne Staten, a Scottsdale resident, said, "I’m from Chicago, and that’s like a crime city. I came here looking for tranquility and no crime." he said, "I just bought this new alarm system, and I didn’t think I needed it. I’m at the top of the mountain.”

The criminal groups are known for targeting homes situated adjacent to natural features such as washes or golf courses, typically gaining entry through windows and focusing on valuables in primary bedrooms and closets.

Despite law enforcement efforts, authorities believe that additional suspects may still be at large, underscoring the ongoing threat posed by South American organized crime groups operating within the United States.

In Los Angeles, the LAPD's collaboration with other affected agencies aims to address the surge in burglaries perpetrated by foreign gangs exploiting the visa waiver program. The task force's formation signifies a proactive response to safeguarding affluent neighborhoods from criminal activities orchestrated by these transnational groups.

Conversely, in Scottsdale, the recent arrests demonstrate law enforcement's efforts to apprehend individuals involved in similar criminal enterprises, highlighting the nationwide scope of these operations.

Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther detailed more on the trio's arrests on March 12 during a press conference.

"During questioning, again, not only did they admit to why they were here, they also admitted to the interstate component of that and that they were doing burglaries in the state of California," he said.

"All three. All three came here legally on the visa waiver program," he said.

"It’s a big deal. It’s impacting Scottsdale, it’s impacting the Valley, it’s impacting the state, it’s impacting the country," he said.

Both cities encounter difficulties due to the sophisticated and coordinated nature of these criminal networks, which extend beyond geographical limits. The incidents highlight the importance of continuous collaboration among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to effectively disrupt and dismantle these illicit operations.

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Yet another reason for tightening our immigration laws and issuing carry permits. And Sanctuary California allows these criminals to flood into the state and prey on citizens.

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