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Thieves steal $1.6 million worth of alcohol in semis

By CM Chaney · October 30, 2023

In brief…

  • Thieves stole $1.6 million in alcohol from a Florida warehouse in early July
  • They smuggled thousands of cases of liquor in semi-trucks to South Florida
  • One suspect arrested so far, another remains at large after warrant issued
  • Sheriff commended quick apprehension of suspect and recovery of stolen alcohol
Thieves stole over $1.6 million worth of liquor from a Florida distribution warehouse in July, smuggling the alcohol to South Florida, leading to the arrest of one suspect and seizure of the stolen goods while another perpetrator remains at large.  David Shankbone / Wikimedia

A group of thieves stole over $1.6 million worth of alcohol from a distribution warehouse in Gibsonton, Florida in early July, officials say. At least one suspect has been arrested so far.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the thieves targeted the warehouse between July 7-10, loading thousands of cases of liquor onto semi-trucks and smuggling it to South Florida. Brands stolen included Jose Cuervo and Malibu.

Investigators say the thieves removed 4,277 cases of alcohol, valued at $1.6 million, from the Republic National Distributing Company warehouse. The theft occurred between 4:10am-9:45am on July 8.

33-year-old Miguel Angel Artles Rivas was arrested as a suspect in the massive liquor heist. He has been charged with grand theft over $100,000 and burglary over $1,000. An arrest warrant has also been issued for 54-year-old Ruth Melly Cardero for her alleged involvement.

Authorities were able to recover the stolen alcohol stash from a storage facility in Hialeah after tracking it down. They also seized several vehicles used in the crime – a Kenworth semi-cab, two Wabash trailers, and a Kia Stinger.

However, Cardero remains at large. Investigators are working to apprehend the outstanding suspect.

According to a search warrant obtained by CNN, the thieves removed security cameras and video recording devices from the warehouse during the robbery. The warrant was for an Apple iPhone 14 Pro believed to contain evidence of the crime.

The robbed distribution center is the second largest alcohol distributor in the U.S. for premium wines and spirits, with $11 billion in revenue in 2019. It has operations across 38 states.

Sheriff Chad Chronister praised detectives for the quick apprehension of one suspect and recovery of the stolen goods. He said further arrests are expected as the investigation continues.