News Release: Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi
June 6, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation of an organized crime ring that swept the southeast United States, allegedly committing smash-and-grab burglaries, culminated with the arrest of eight suspects. According to the investigation, this group traveled throughout Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and eleven judicial circuits in Florida using stolen cars to crash through doors at major electronic stores, such as Best Buy, h.h.gregg, and Comp USA in order to steal Apple products. This dangerous approach enabled the group to enter and exit the targeted stores in just minutes. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement led the investigation with the exceptional cooperation and assistance of local authorities throughout Florida.
“Thanks to a strong partnership among the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, local authorities, and my Office of Statewide Prosecution, we will now move forward with the aggressive prosecution of these individuals,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“My appreciation to each law enforcement partner that assisted in dismantling this brazen, dangerous theft ring,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
The defendants have been charged with one or more of the following counts: Racketeering and Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, both first degree felonies punishable up to 30 years in state prison; Grand Theft and Utilizing a Vehicle as an Instrumentality, first degree felony punishable up to 30 years; Smash and Grab Burglary, a first degree felony punishable by life in prison.
The defendants below have been arrested:
Law Enforcement deemed the group as very dangerous as they engaged in high speed chases with law enforcement on several occasions. Several defendants qualify as career criminals under Florida’s career criminal statutes. Melvin Haywood, leader of the group, will qualify under the “GORT” Violent Career Criminal Statute, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of the crimes charged.
This case will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.