A Kendall grandmother charged with multiple counts of grand theft led to the breakup of extensive Florida-wide fencing operations reported to have dealt in $3.5 million worth of stolen pharmaceuticals.
The bizarre case involving a dozen individuals came to light when Det. Miguel Garcia was honored as Officer of the Month in the Miami-Dade Police Hammocks District on Aug. 29. His recognition ceremony was watched proudly by his two children, Michael, 15, and Danielle, 13. “This is an incredible story of a detective’s perseverance that begins with the simplest kind of theft report,” said Maj. Hernan M. Organvidez, district commander, noting a surveillance camera captured the image of a woman taking diabetic strips at a CVS pharmacy.
The surveillance video given to Det. Garcia on June 12 began investigative work that produced linkage of the woman with a Florida vehicle bearing a registration tag that tied her traffic citation to its male owner.
A Miami-Dade traffic database provided Det. Garcia with a match to the surveillance video photo with the likeness portrayed on the woman’s driver’s license after she was cited in Miami-Dade County.
Once a positive identification was determined, Det. Garcia and a second detective began a stakeout of the woman’s home and on July 20 took the subject into custody without incident. Regular purchases by two fencing contacts of stolen items were admitted by the Kendall woman who said six other individuals regularly stole a varied number of pharmaceuticals to supply sufficient items for statewide purchases.
Her confession also implicated four CVS employees, paid by her so she might continue thefts without the knowledge of store management. Two employees went so far as to supply her with security keys to further enable the thefts.
Items taken varied from pregnancy tests to 50- and 100-count diabetic strips, Ibuprofen, antacid medication and common aspirin, along with other over-thecounter items.
“In total, Miami-Dade County CVS stores sustained losses in excess of $1.5 million and Broward County CVS stores sustained losses in excess of $2 million,” Maj. Organvidez said, adding that the stolen items had been distributed for resale throughout Florida.