SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles head of a ring that tracked and robbed traveling jewelry salespeople, stealing at least $835,000 worth of goods, was sentenced to federal prison Friday, prosecutors said.
Federico Santiago Quiroz Lucca was sentenced to 45 months in prison and was ordered to pay $835,000 in restitution, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.
Lucca, 52, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.
Prosecutors said that from 2017 into 2019, Lucca and his crew robbed jewelry salespeople in the Los Angeles area, the San Francisco Bay Area and in Denver.
“Lucca led and organized the crew’s activities, enlisting help from several Colombian nationals who traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the conspiracy and robberies. He also used his apartment as a base of operations and meeting place where some co-conspirators lived, and equipment and stolen goods were stored,” the statement said.
According to prosecutors, the crew would use a “scout” to identify a target — typically jewelers doing business at stores, malls or trade shows.
They would be followed, sometimes for hours and many miles, until they could be robbed by force or tricked out of their goods.
One ruse involved puncturing a car tire and having a crew member pose as a Good Samaritan to steal a bag containing the goods, prosecutors said.
In 2019, a couple who ran a jewelry business in Connecticut lost a bag containing about $400,000 in jewelry during a show at the Los Angeles Convention Center when a man in a yellow and orange safety vest helped them pack and push their belongings in a cart in order to make off with the bag, authorities said.
The crew had tracked the victims for days, the U.S. attorney’s statement said.
Lucca and two others were arrested last year in Northern California. Three co-conspirators have pleaded guilty in the case and another man faces trial next year in Los Angeles.