Lake County, Illinois – Bust Uncovers Portion of Nationwide $400K Retail Crime Ring Exploiting Venezuelan Migrants


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Vernon Hills, IL – A multi-agency operation on May 24 and 25 in Lake County led to the arrest of eleven individuals and the filing of seventeen new felony charges, targeting an organized retail crime ring that allegedly exploited Venezuelan migrants.

According to the Vernon Hills Police Department, the initiative involved coordination with multiple law enforcement agencies, resulting in the seizure of stolen merchandise worth approximately $27,000 and two vehicles. The operation uncovered active warrants in several states, including Texas, California, and Illinois, and recovered $6,000 believed to be theft proceeds.

Notable arrests include Rosa Ramos-Jimenez, 21, and Thelma Estrada Altamirano, 37, charged with alleged felony burglary and theft. They are believed to be part of a crew responsible for over $100,000 in losses to Macy’s stores across the United States. Another individual, Luminata Zatreanu, 26, faces alleged felony charges of retail theft and theft, linked to losses of $300,000 in Ulta stores from Minnesota to South Carolina. Combined, these thefts amount to $400,000 in losses.

The operation also resulted in the arrests of Christopher Warren, 25, Isaiah Rucker, 27, and Gregory Carter, 23, who each face alleged felony charges of identity theft. This Texas-based group had numerous forged driver’s licenses and ID cards. Authorities also recovered multiple Venezuelan migrants who were allegedly recruited for work under false pretenses and transported in the cargo area of a truck, showing symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“These arrests occurred in only one jurisdiction, but they involved offenders known to commit crimes nationwide,” said Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick L. Kreis, underscoring the extent of the retail crime problem impacting communities across the country.


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