Authorities in Colorado have busted one of the largest shoplifting and money laundering rings in the state’s history.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said law enforcement is “confident” they have arrested the seven “key players” involved in the alleged scheme after opening an investigation in June 2019.
“What we found out is that a lot of property that was being stolen was being resold on the open market on online markets,” Spurlock explained at a news conference.
According to Spurlock, investigators worked with Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Whole Foods, Sephora and other major retailers to recover “a massive” cache of over 430,000 stolen items, $108,000 in gold and $100,000 cash. The total estimated amount of recovered goods and assets is over $1.7 million and the total value of items fenced while the ring operated is believed to be $5.2 million.
Cash was moved between multiple accounts and a lot left the United States, Sheriff Spurlock noted.
A grand jury indicted seven suspects in the alleged organized crime syndicate — Dziyana Altshuler, Ilona Nastas, Grigore Tataru, Evgeny Shadrin, Ivan Biazliudau, Dzianis Artyushkevich and Dmitry Altshuler. The suspects are all from Eastern Europe and most, if not all, were in the United States legally, Spurlock said.
The accused now face 78 charges in total, including money laundering and theft.
“This is huge for law enforcement and for the private sector to work together to come after individuals who were stealing property, impacting the state of Colorado and, quite frankly, our nation," Spurlock said, explaining, "Every time something was stolen and was resold at a lower price, you as a consumer were paying" for that since retailers often pass the cost along.