PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – Another crime syndicate from South America has been identified in a series of crimes in Middle Tennessee.
This group is from Chile and they were first spotted in late April, breaking into unlocked cars at a Portland golf club.
“We are guessing because people are playing golf, will be out for a while,” Lt. Jason Arnold said.
Portland police said the four men arrived in a blue car, believed to be a rental.
“They have a little crime spree going on to sustain their criminal enterprise,” Arnold said.
According to investigators, the men stole credit cards and went to Best Buy stores in Rivergate and Mt. Juliet, attempting to buy computers, other electronics and Apple gift cards.
Police said many of the cards were quickly declined, but the thieves were able to get $500 worth of gift cards.
There was a lot of surveillance of the suspects who were seen wearing sling bags over their shoulders.
Three of the four suspects have yet to be identified, but a 24-year-old thief, wearing a purple shirt is now identified as Alexander Jara Garcia.
Detectives say the Chilean National has been living in New York City for a while and has overstayed his visa.
According to Portland police, a few weeks after the Portland golf course crime spree, the group was in Madison, Alabama, again breaking into cars at a golf club.
This time, law enforcement was able to arrest Garcia.
“This is something we have never dealt with and after dealing with homeland security, we are coming to find that this is regular, and that people from Chile will come up here and do things like this,” Arnold said.
Assistant Chief Jim Colvin of the Brentwood Police Department added, “They are very coordinated; they rotate people in and out of the country.”
In late June, News 2 brought you a similar crime spree from Brentwood. In this organized crime, police said three suspects from Colombia reportedly came to Middle Tennessee to break into homes.
“These suspects are believed to be part of a group who come to this country specifically to commit crimes in areas where there are large homes,” Colvin said.
“And it is difficult on us; they are not U.S. citizens. We don’t know who they are. We are very lucky to ID this one,” Arnold added.
Garcia is currently in jail in Alabama. News 2 has learned he is fighting his extradition to Sumner County. The DA’s office has reportedly filed a governor’s warrant to bring him to Portland despite his wishes not to leave Alabama.