Cuban nationals stealing diesel for black market sales


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 30 at 7:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Austin police bust a Cuban national ring operating in the United States. They say the crooks were stealing diesel fuel and selling it on the black market.

Officers arrested 37-year-old Raidel Gonzales and charged him with credit card abuse and fraud. APD said they consider him a "little guy," part of a larger ring they've been investigating for more than three years.

"In his possession we found a total of 10 cloned counterfeit cards, including the one he used fraudulently in this case," said Senior Sgt. James Jardine.

Jardine said investigators have surveillance video of Gonzales filling up $100 and $87 worth of stolen gasoline. They believe he stole more than $7,000 over the course of a couple weeks.

According to an arrest affidavit, they found a way to make themselves virtually untraceable by cloning debit.

"It's a card that uses stolen data from another debit card. Then that is used to clone that card," said Jardine.

The affidavit said the crooks used hand-held skimming devices to steal information from cards. Detectives believe they also purchased stolen credit information off the Internet.

Jardine said they would take the fuel to a dump site in East Austin and said the operation is based in Miami but has active cells in Houston, Lubbock and Austin.

"This involves several co-conspirators and it's an organized ring. We are going to continue to breakup this ring and incapacitate them," Jardine said.

Jardine added that the majority of the victims were in Miami. That's where he believes the skimming operation takes place.