NYPD arrests 2 in connection with illegal immigrant moped gang responsible for at least 62 robberies

Ringleader Victor Parra was released on bail in December after being arrested for grand larceny just months after arriving in the US.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

The New York Police Department is searching for the ringleader of a gang made up of illegal immigrants that has been tied to dozens of robberies across the city, mostly targeting women.

Victor Perra, 30, was released on bail in December after being arrested for grand larceny just months after arriving in the United States from Venezuela. According to the New York Post, Cleyber Andrade, 19, and Juan Uzcatgui, 23, were recently arrested in connection to the robbery ring. 

In a press conference, NYPD Chief Detective Joe Kenny explained that the crimes involved "multiple thieves on mopeds snatching cell phones and purses from their victims," noting that the mopeds themselves were more often than not stolen as well.

He said that the first incident occurred in November 2023, with the most recent taking place on February 4. Crimes committed by the gang, whose members have been mapped out in Citywide Grand Larceny Pattern #156, were recorded in every borough except Staten Island, with 56 percent of them in Manhattan.

One of the gang's attacks was caught on video and posted to social media, where it went viral. The clip shows an older woman, later identified as 62-year-old Irina Panteleeva, being dragged along the sidewalk as the thieves make off with her purse, which contained her phone, keys, credit cards, and glasses.

As the New York Post reports, Panteleeva came to the US legally 44 years ago and called her attackers "scumbags" who had no respect for the country.

Kenny revealed that the gang is made up of illegal immigrants who are living in the city's shelter system, and named Parro as the leader. He said Parro would use WhatsApp to alert his minions about a crime he wanted them to commit, specifying exactly which type of phone he wanted them to nab.

"Once the messages are received, the crime wave begins," he added, "with the scooter operators making $100 a day, and the actual phone snatchers making between $300 to $600 per phone that is stolen."

Kenny explained that the thieves then bring the phones to Parro's home in the Bronx, where he "employs a tech guy who is able to hack into the stolen phones where he gains access to the victims financial and banking apps," which are then used to "make illegal transactions and fradulent purchases in the United States and South America." When the victims' bank accounts are emptied, he continued, the phones are shipped to Colombia to be "reprogrammed."

To date, 14 members of the gang have been arrested, with seven facing multiple counts of grand larceny. While the execution of a search warrant on Parro's home failed to bring him down, officers did recover 22 stolen phones and arrest five people, including the tech guy.

"I am confident that the US Marshals Regional Fugutive Task Force will locate him shortly," Kenny added.

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