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Eight Charged in Massive East Coast Beer Heist

On Wednesday, eight men from the Bronx were charged for crimes relating to what an indictment refers to as the “Beer Theft Enterprise.”

The indictment, which was unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, alleges that the accused targeted train yards and warehouses across the Northeast to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beer — the majority of which was Corona and Modelo — over the course of two years.

Prosecutors allege that 27-year-old co-defendant Jose Cesari was the ringleader of the operation. According to the indictment, Cesari roped others into the crime ring — which operated from July 2022 to March 2024 — by posting on Instagram to declare his need for “workers who want to make money,” accompanied by a money bag and railroad track emoji. In a separate post, Cesari “guarantee[d]” that by using the “beer train method,” anyone involved in the operation would “make 100k+ in a month.”

As revealed in the indictment, the men strictly operated at night and typically met up in the Bronx before driving to either a railyard or beverage distribution facility in U-Haul box trucks. Upon arrival, members of the group then slashed a hole in any fencing allowing them to get closer to the would-be contraband beer. At railyards, railroad cars were broken into directly to allow the group to move sealed pallets of beer into idling vehicles.

FBI special agent in charge James E. Dennehy also stated in the indictment that Cesari — who was present for most if not all of the robberies — frequently carried a weapon with him.

After completing the thefts, the indictment alleges that the stolen beer was transported back to the Bronx to sell to buyers that have yet to be identified. Prosecutors claim that after each heist, those who participated were paid hundreds of dollars.

Cesari was charged with seven felonies including conspiracy to steal from interstate or foreign shipments by carrier, theft from interstate or foreign shipments, and using a firearm during a crime of violence. His co-defendants each face the same conspiracy to steal charge, and six of them also face one count of theft from interstate or foreign shipment.

“For years, the Beer Theft Enterprise has operated brazenly, allegedly breaking into railyards and beverage distribution facilities throughout the Northeast and filling U-Haul box trucks to the brim with cases of beer,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a press release. “That dangerous and disruptive conduct — sometimes allegedly accompanied by the threat of violence — has left several beverage distribution and railroad companies ailing. Today’s arrests reinforce that the Beer Theft Enterprise’s staggering thefts will not be tolerated in the Southern District of New York.”

Six of the co-defendants were arrested in New York on Wednesday, while one remains in custody in Connecticut. Cesari surrendered to authorities on Thursday morning.

The article Eight Charged in Massive East Coast Beer Heist appeared first on VinePair.

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