An Uber driver who was charged with taking part in a bold cargo-truck heist of 23,000 Apple iPhones worth $7 million was acquitted by a Miami federal jury last week.
Eloy Garcia, who arrived from Cuba in recent years, was found not guilty of conspiring to receive the stolen iPhones and possessing hundreds that he was accused of trying to sell to a confidential FBI informant during the summer of 2016.
Seven other Miami-Dade men pleaded guilty to carrying out the heist of the iPhones that had been shipped to Latin America from China via the Miami International Airport. However, Garcia, 43, had opted to go to trial.
“He was absolutely and totally clueless” about the criminal activity, Garcia’s defense attorney Douglas Williams told the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
According to Williams, his client is walking free because he was able to show that Garcia was only taking orders from a Cuban boyhood friend who had been implicated in the heist and pleaded guilty.
Rasiel Perez, who was sentenced to a year in prison, told the court that Garcia “did anything and everything” he was asked when it came to the iPhones because of their close friendship. He also testified that his childhood friend had no idea the valuable merchandise was stolen, the Herald reported.
According to the indictment, one of the suspects used a fake ID and a doctored tractor-trailer truck that was made to look like a legitimate business vehicle to take $6.7 million worth of Apple iPhones out of the LAN Cargo lot at the Miami airport in early April 2016.
The thieves kept the phones in rental storage units and began slowly selling the phones. By late May of that year, they had sold 100 photos for $12,500 before picking up the pace.
They managed to sell 600 cellphones before they were caught in late October 2016.
The eight defendants faced counts of conspiracy to steal goods from an interstate or foreign shipment, theft, possession and conspiracy to receive the stolen merchandise.
Seven of the defendants – Perez, 46; Yoan Perez, 34; Leonel Padron Bello, 36; Emilio Herrera, 42; Ricardo Gonzalez, 53; Misael Cabrera Ruiz, 38; and Rodolfo Urra, 37 – pleaded guilty to different charges. They received prison sentences ranging from six months to more than three years.
As for Garcia, as a result of his acquittal, he's set to recover about $30,000 that federal agents seized from his home during his October 2016 arrest.
Williams said the money was from his work and savings.