LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Lee Quintyne, Special Agent-in-Charge, General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General, Col Graham W. Fountain, Director, Florida Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Compliance Office, and Sheriff Ken Jenne, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, announced today that agents and officers of a joint Task Force arrested defendant Ricardo Aristides Mejia, 45, of North Miami, Director of Genesis Petroleum, Inc., and six others, including Ricardo Isai Mejia, 18, also of North Miami, Roberto Muniz, 37, of Deerfield Beach, Yoel Betancourt, 36, of Miami, Alberto Alvarez, 37, of Hialeah, Leonel SanMartin, 42, of Miami Lakes, and Noel Delgado-Hernandez, 35, of Miami, on a criminal complaint issued in Miami and unsealed today. The defendants are charged with conspiring to steal and convert interstate shipments of fuel loaded at the fuel terminals at Port Everglades, Florida, for delivery to customers, embezzling and taking by fraud and deception goods which were a part of an interstate or foreign shipment, and aiding and abetting the foregoing offenses, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 659, and 2.
According to the Affidavit accompanying the complaint and search warrants issued by the Court in Miami, Genesis Petroleum, Inc., a Florida corporation using an address in north east Miami, was the operator of a series of commercial tanker trucks that hauled gasoline and diesel fuel to customers in areas ranging from Fort Pierce to Key West. The trips were scheduled by a Gainesville, Georgia-based company, which paid Genesis for its cartage services.
Enforcement authorities received information that Genesis drivers were making fuel deliveries into a modified 40′ shipping container on private property near Port Everglades and Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. This container had been leased by the company President, defendant Ricardo Aristides Mejia. Subsequent surveillance of the modified container revealed deliveries into two concealed storage tanks in the container, and subsequent withdrawals from the tanks into the Genesis tanker truck fuel tanks, personal vehicles of Genesis employees, commercial vehicles, gas containers, and other private vehicles. The container was not equipped with safety placards, and met none of the safety requirements imposed on commercial fuel dispensers. In mid-August 2006, the shipping container was moved to an industrial yard in Davie, Florida, and the same pattern of deliveries and withdrawals continued.
Task Force officers and agents conducted both physical and electronic surveillance of the Genesis operation from mid-May through execution of the warrants. In the course of the investigation, dubbed “Operation Rolaids,” they observed fuel being delivered into the shipping container storage tank, and then subsequent deliveries of fuel to customers. Investigators were able to secure the assistance of several of the victims of the fuel diversion scheme, who were able to identify losses of fuel as high as 8,000 gallons over the course of multiple Genesis deliveries. From the surveillance and documents provided by the drivers to the customer facilities, investigators identified the employees of Genesis who were involved in skimming the fuel and documented the same individuals fueling their personal and business vehicles from the shipping container storage tanks.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Special Agents, investigators and deputies with ICE, DOT-OIG, General Services Administration-Office of Inspector General, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Environmental Protection, Internal Revenue Service, Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection, Broward County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, Broward County Fire Marshalls, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, whose investigative efforts led to the charges in this case. Mr. Acosta also thanked the members of the public that cooperated with the task force during the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-Fitz-Gerald and Lynn Rosenthal.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.