Chileans arrested in California suburb days after LAPD forms task force to combat transnational crime

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Police arrested three Chilean men Friday in the sleepy California suburb of Irvine, just days after Los Angeles police formed a task force to combat an international crime ring targeting luxury homes in the United States. -United.

The arrests came after a recent increase in home burglaries in Irvine, a relatively low-crime area in Orange County, about 40 miles south of Los Angeles.

Irvine police officers were conducting surveillance work when a “suspicious vehicle” near Boomer Canyon caught their attention.

Police said the three men arrested were Chilean nationals who had no reason to be in Irvine. (Irvine Police Department)

Police said there were three men inside the car who “were not from the area and appeared to have no reason to be in Irvine.”

The driver fled when police attempted to arrest him. Eventually, police were able to stop the car and search the interior. Officers found burglar-proof tools, pet deterrents, shoe covers and masks.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the trio appeared to be investigating the area with a view to committing residential burglaries and were arrested for conspiracy to commit burglary, providing false information to a police officer and possession of tools burglary,” Irvine police said in a statement. .

LA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT'S ORGANIZED RETAIL THEFT CRIME TASK FORCE CONDUCTS MAJOR FENCING BUST

Police identified the three men as Julio Cordova-Martinez, 55, Ricardo Navarete-Loyola, 19, and Leopoldo Jara-Araya, 57. All three were of Chilean nationality and incarcerated at the Orange County Jail (OCJ).

Their arrest comes amid a rise in the number of transnational criminal groups entering the United States, taking advantage of a State Department travel program to raid affluent U.S. neighborhoods and ransack homes for profit .

Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department formed a task force to combat these groups. The majority of gang members come from Chile, but law enforcement has encountered people from other South American countries, including Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Chilean arrested

Irvine police arrested the Chilean trio Friday evening. (Irvine Police Department)

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has been warning about the problem since at least the summer, calling the burglaries “carefully calculated and planned.”

Spitzer filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for failing to respond to public records requests involving documents on the issue.

Irvine has seen an increase in home burglaries, with more than 30 in as many days, although only seven of those are estimated to have been linked to transnational criminal gangs.

The problem isn't limited to California either, as similar crimes have been reported in Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, among other states.

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These crimes were made possible by Chile's membership in the US Visa Waiver Program, which allows tourists and business travelers to enter America for 90 days or less without having to obtain a visa or go through a thorough vetting process.

Mike Ruiz of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

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