SALT LAKE CITY — Three people who investigators believe may be tied to a Chilean theft ring responsible for stealing more than $500,000 worth of merchandise from Victoria's Secret stores in Las Vegas have been convicted in Utah.
William Orlando Pinzon Galindo, 41, pleaded guilty on March 6 to theft by receiving stolen property, a third-degree felony. He was placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution.
Omaira Reina-Martinez, 24, pleaded guilty the same day to theft by receiving stolen property, a third-degree felony; and having a fake ID, a class A misdemeanor. She was also given a suspended prison sentence, placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution.
Francisco Ugarte Garcia, 22, pleaded guilty on Feb. 20 to theft by receiving stolen property, a third-degree felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3.
The investigation into the trio began Jan. 24, when a car was pulled over on I-70 in Utah for doing 95 mph in a 75 mph zone and later 101 mph in an 80 mph zone, according to charging documents.
The car was searched by police because of a strong odor of marijuana coming from it, the charges state. Investigators reported finding "a large amount of new clothing, watches, bras, underwear" that still had their price tags and theft prevention devices on them.
An agent from the State Bureau of Investigation was called to assist and served a search warrant on the vehicle the next day. That warrant was unsealed late last week.
"It was discovered there had recently been a $500,000 theft ring in Las Vegas from Victoria’s Secret stores," the warrant states.
After contacting the head of security at the store, Utah investigators made a discovery. "These individuals are most likely part of a Chilean ring that has been committing thefts all over Las Vegas," he warrant states.
Reina-Martinez initially told investigators that the trio had purchased the clothing items with cash and thrown away the receipts and "that they planned to go to South America to open a store," the warrant states.
Investigators learned she was also arrested in Georgia for a similar crime using similar methods, according to the affidavit.Comment on this story
Lt. Rob Nixon with the State Bureau of Investigation said as detectives continued to look further into the incident, they learned that Las Vegas and Los Angeles have been "hit hard" with similar store robberies believed to be tied to a group from Chile.
But this isn't the first time Utah authorities have seen this kind of crime.
The recent arrests in Utah, Nixon said, were very similar to a bust he made in 2016. He said he stopped a vehicle and found numerous perfume bottles and clothing items inside. The car was occupied by two people from Chile who were carrying fake IDs from Puerto Rico, he said.