Three of four suspects accused of targeting dozens of Asian American business owners and their families in Colorado and Wyoming in 2019 have been arrested and charged this week.
The investigation, known as “Operation Daylight,” started in Fort Collins, Colorado after five residential burglaries were reported between January 2019 and April 2019.
The scheme: The suspects, believed to have ties to South America, had a pattern in conducting their criminal activities.
- In each of the first five cases, the suspects arrived in broad daylight, knocked on the front door and waited for a few minutes before breaking in.
- Once inside, the suspects took cash, jewelry and safes.
- Investigators learned that the same scheme has been taking place across the country.
- The suspects burglarized a total of 26 Asian American homes in Colorado and Wyoming between January 2019 and July 2019.
- Authorities said total losses range from $1.3 million to $1.4 million.
The suspects: In partnership with the FBI, the Fort Collins Police Department (FCPD) was able to collect evidence that led to the identification of the suspects, who are all from Miami, Florida.
- The four suspects are: (1) Santiago Hoyos Gaviria, 24; (2) Jhon Eder Florez-Molina, 28; (3) Yenny Zoraya Rodas-Florez, 30; and (4) Carlos Geovanny Florez-Molina, 34.
- Hoyos Gaviria, Rodas-Florez and Carlos Florez-Molina have all been apprehended as of this writing.
- They were extradited to Colorado and booked at the Larimer County Jail.
- All three suspects have been charged with racketeering, conspiracy and multiple counts of burglary and theft/criminal mischief, according to CBS Denver.
- Jhon Florez-Molina remains at large and is believed to be hiding in Colombia.
Targeted attacks: Authorities have confirmed the attacks were calculated and targeted Asian Americans.
- “These were not just random burglaries occurring that we were piecing together. These were calculated, organized efforts to go after a specific population and specific things within that house,” FCPD Detective David Lindsay told KDVR.
- The victims owned businesses such as restaurants and salons and were not present when the break-ins took place.
- “Every victim family I spoke with shared a sense of violation, violation of their privacy, having their house broken into forcibly, during broad daylight,” Lindsay added.
- In a statement, Attorney General Phil Weiser said Colorado will not tolerate crimes against Asian Americans.
- “Today’s announcement highlights the increase in crimes against Asian Americans. We in Colorado won’t tolerate it. Those who commit crimes against an individual or community because of their ethnicity or cultural background must be held to account,” Weiser said.
Aside from Larimer County, similar burglaries also occurred in Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Jefferson County, Greeley and Castle Rock. Whether the cases are connected remains under investigation.
“The suspects in this international case brazenly victimized members of our community and beyond, and they will finally be held accountable,” FCPS Criminal Investigations Assistant Chief Tim Doran said. “Every crime is wrong, but one focused against a particular race or ethnic group is particularly reprehensible. I’m all the more proud of our detectives who spent over two years piecing this puzzle together. I’m also grateful for teamwork with local, state, and federal partners to help 26 families seek justice.”
Featured Images via Larimer County Sheriff’s Office