Fed Say They've Busted Beer Train Bandits

8 alleged members of Bronx-based 'Beer Theft Enterprise' face federal charges
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2024 7:29 AM CDT
Feds Say Beer Bandits Targeted Railyards
Modelo beer was among the group's preferred targets, investigators say.   (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

Federal prosecutors are calling it the "Beer Theft Enterprise." According to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, eight Bronx residents are charged with stealing beer worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in heists at rail yards and warehouses across the Northeast, the New York Times reports. Prosecutors said that in a typical heist, members of the Enterprise would assemble in the Bronx before driving a U-Haul truck to the targeted rail yard or distribution facility. In the rail yard thefts, they would cut a hole in fencing and cut locks on rail cars before filling the truck with pallets of beer.

The beer—usually Corona and Modelo—would then be taken back to the Bronx, "where it was inspected and made available for sale," prosecutors said. They said Enterprise members were usually paid hundreds of dollars for a night's work. According to the indictment, alleged ringleader Jose Cesari recruited participants with Instagram posts, including one that said "Need workers who want to make money" and had a moneybag emoji and an image of railroad tracks, the Times reports. Authorities say seven defendants are in custody but Cesari, 27, is still at large.

The suspects face charges including conspiracy to steal from interstate or foreign shipments by carrier. Cesari, who allegedly often used a weapon during the heists, also faces Hobbs Act robbery and conspiracy charges. "Train heists harken back to the days of the Wild West and gunslingers riding horses, stealing loot from rail cars," FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said in a statement. "The romanticized image has nothing to do with the modern-day criminals we allege took part in a theft ring in New Jersey, New York, and beyond," he said. "Our team of agents and investigators working on this case has done an outstanding job bringing these alleged thieves' crime spree to the end of the line." (More beer stories.)

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