COCOA, Florida – The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrested four men involved in a fuel theft scheme where counterfeit credit cards are used to purchase diesel fuel that is pumped into makeshift bladder tanks hidden inside vehicles.
Law enforcement refers to these modified vehicles as “rolling bombs” because of the unsafe condition that the fuel is stored and could explode if the vehicle is involved in a collision.
Stolen fuel has become so lucrative in Florida that organized gangs are giving up selling drugs because a single operator of a bladder truck can gross up to $1,500 a day, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
This week, members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit arrested 32-year-old Felix Martinez-Hernandez of Hialeah, Florida, 34-year-old Humberto Machin-Morejon of Orlando, Florida, and 37-year-old, Osmany Oliva-Quintanilla of West Palm Beach, Florida, and 31-year-old Yoan Salazar of Orlando, Florida, for attempting to steal hundreds of gallons of fuel using stolen credit cards.
The arrests were pursuant to Sheriff’s agents identifying credit card skimmer activity at local Brevard County gas stations and then using the information they obtained from various seized skimmers to identify the suspects as members of an illegal organization using counterfeit credit cards to steal fuel.
On November 20, 2019, Sheriff’s agents initiated surveillance on the organization’s members as they were observed traveling within Brevard County.
The agents watched as the suspects pulled the trucks to the pumps of a convenience store in Cocoa and began pumping fuel into illegal bladder tanks using gas pumps that had been activated with stolen credit cards.
Prior to pumping the gas, members of the groups were observed actually obtaining the credit cards from Machin-Morejon, agents say.
After the agents observed the criminal activity, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputies were directed to the location where they took Machin-Moreon, Quintanilla, and Salazar into custody without incident.
At the time of his arrest, Machin-Morejon was found to be in possession of 36 counterfeit credit cards.
Martinez was subsequently taken into custody a short distance from the location during a traffic stop and was also charged for his involvement in the criminal activity.
The men were using two large F-250 pickup trucks and also a large box truck that were seized as part of the investigation.
Martinez, Quintanilla, and Salazar were each charged with Unlawful Conveyance of Fuel while Machin-Morejon was charged with Trafficking in Counterfeit Credit Cards.
The suspects were transported to the Brevard County Jail where they are being held on a $3,000.00 bond.
Additional charges for possession and criminal use of another person’s personal information are still pending as the investigation continues.