MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Seven suspected members of a boat theft ring that target numerous boat owners throughout Miami-Dade have been arrested.
The alleged ringleaders of the operation were a father and son. William Baez-Cartalla, 48, is facing multiple charges including armed burglary, burglary, grand theft, racketeering. His son, 22-year-old William Baez-Valdes, is facing grand theft and racketeering charges.
The charges they face could potentially lead to a sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted.
The other five arrested were 22-year-old Christian Martinez-Amor, 21-year-old Luis Sanchez-Rodriguez, 27-year-old Roberto Torres, 35-year-old Alejandro Saez-Garrido, and 29-year-old Yerandy Machado.
Twenty-seven-year-old Roberto Torres and 35-year-old Alejandro Saenz-Garrido are still at large.
There were strong words from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
“These crimes must stop and will stop,” said Fernandez Rundle. “This is one strike for the benefit of boat owners in South Florida. We are the Mecca.”
She said Miami-Dade had about 68,000 registered boat owners and Broward has about 45,000 registered boat owners.
She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “We are going to be on the lookout for these boat thieves. They are going to be arrested and they are going to be prosecuted.”
Director Perez said, “Today we stand here with one message and one message only that if you intend to steal boats this will longer be acceptable.” He said it was “shameful” that Miami-Dade had come to be known for so much fraud and theft.”
Charges against these five include grand theft, conspiracy to racketeer, burglary, and grand theft.
According to Miami-Dade police investigators, Baez-Cartalla and his son would steal Ford pick up trucks to have them ready for future boat thefts.
Baez-Cartalla or his son would then pick up another member of the alleged ring and drive them to the stolen truck. Once there, the alleged ring member was told to follow them in the truck to a targeted residence.
Once there Baez-Cartalla would use a blow torch to cut the locks on the gates and boat trailers. The boat would then be hooked up to the stolen truck and they would drive off to a specified location where the alleged ring member would be paid.
Baez-Cartalla and the others would then reportedly strip the boat of valuable outboard motors and electronics.
Miami-Dade police said they believe the ring had been operating for more than a year.
In September 2018, surveillance video at a home in the 11000 block of SW 38th Terrace captured two men trying to steal a boat from the backyard. The homeowner hit the alarm and them drove off. Arriving officers spotted a Nissan Sentra fleeing the residence and stopped it. Inside were Baez-Cartalla and Torres.
A canvas of the area turned up a Ford F-250, which had been stolen a month earlier from a man in Hialeah.
Using the surveillance video and cell phone tower records, investigators said they were able to identify and arrest seven members of the operation.