Police have shared a horrific video in which a despicable Venezuelan gang dragged a 62-year-old woman down the street on a moped after stealing her phone.
The violent thugs have been causing mayhem in New York, going on a despicable spree in which they’ve carried out a staggering 62 thefts on innocent women across the city’s seven boroughs.
Police tracked them down to a safe house in the Bronx. Two men were arrested in the house.
The two suspects are Cleyber Andrade, 19, and Juan Uzcatgui, 23. Cops are still searching for the ringleader, a Venezuelan migrant named Victor Parra, 30, of the Bronx, who was cut loose by a judge in December after getting picked up for grand larceny, sources said.
Authorities hoped to arrest the ringleader Monday after Andrade and Uzcatgui already gave him up, sources said.
Cops have also identified six other people connected to the ring: Yan Jimenez, 25, of Manhattan; Anthony Ramos, 21, of Manhattan; Richard Saledo, 21, of the Bronx; Beike Jimenez, 21, of the Bronx; Maria Manaura, 32, of Manhattan; and Samuel Castro, 27, of Queens, according to sources.
All have previous grand larceny arrests for criminal activity sources say is related to the conspiracy, which has been terrorizing the city since about mid-November.
At a press conference on Monday, Feb. 5, NYPD Inspector Nicholas Fiore said Parra has convinced others to “go do his dirty work to grab phones and stuff.”
“He’s the big target,” Fiore said in a video posted to X. “He’s caused a lot of problems in New York City. And hopefully we’ll grab him, we get some headway on this.”
At a separate press conference at One Police Plaza on Monday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said the alleged suspects are part of a “sophisticated criminal enterprise” made up of recently arrived immigrants.
The ringleader, Parra, who cops said entered the US in 2023, would send specific orders to henchmen in his 14-member crew detailing the kind of phone he was looking for.
“Parra will blast out a message via WhatsApp that he is looking for phones,” Kenny said. “And then the text will say, ‘I have money, I’m available, go get ’em.’”
Scooter drivers make $100 a day, and the actual phone snatcher could make $300 to $600 per stolen device, according to cops.
Once he had the phones in-hand, Parra would have a hacker break into financial or banking apps so they could make fraudulent buys, Kenny said.
After they’d cleaned out their victim, Parra would send the phone to buyers in cities like Miami or Houston — or foreign countries like Colombia or Venezuela, police officials said.
“This network of thieves predominantly live in the migrant shelter system,” Kenny said. “They use social media platforms to organize and coordinate this. This is how they operate.
Although cops have linked 62 incidents across the city to the group, they may have been involved in as many as 150, police officials said.
NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said: “Most migrants come to NYC in search of a better life. Sadly, some come to commit crime. Today, we made tremendous progress in the largest robbery pattern plaguing our city.” However, police are still on the hunt for the leader of the crime ring, who has allegedly been sourcing migrants to do ‘his dirty work’. Fiore explained: “He’s the big target. [He] has caused a lot of problems in New York City.”
The arrests on February 5 come after another clip showed approximately 12 migrants attacking a pair of officers in Times Square in late January. Following the incident, a Manhattan judge let five or more asylum seekers go free without bail after they were charged with the crime. But four of the suspects have taken off, fleeing the city by giving a charity that helps migrants get bus tickets, fake names to avoid facing the consequences of their actions.
A police source told The New York Post: “They’re buying cars back in Ecuador and Venezuela. They’re putting pools in their homes there. All this money is going back and forth. That’s why the larcenies are going out of control. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing.”
The NYPD outlined the gang’s vicious tactics in a video clip posted online, which showed a moped-borne robber dragging Irina Panteleeva, 62, across the pavement in front of Bay Gourmet Deli Juice Bar on Sheepshead Bay Road just three days after Christmas.
The thieves made off with Panteleeva’s bag, keys, phone credit cards and glasses — all while she careened through the air and slammed into a metal bike rack.
“I feel bad, I feel bad,” Panteleeva told The Post over the phone. “The thieves stole my bag.”
Watch the video below.