JAMAICA, Queens (WABC) -- Six people, including airline workers, have been arrested in connection with a multi-agency investigation into a pair of cargo heists at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens.
The suspects are accused of stealing and selling millions of dollars worth of designer goods, while also threatening the overall security of the entire region.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and the Port Authority Police say proceeds from a complex cargo heist -- which included Chanel handbags and jewelry, Gucci purses, sunglasses and sneakers, and Prada bags and accessories -- amounted to about $6 million.
"The safety and security of this county's airports are a top priority," Katz said. "Teaming up with our law enforcement partners, we relentlessly pursued the suspects, who allegedly used forged documents and their insider knowledge as former airport workers to steal air cargo. Of course our airports must be safe and secure for travelers, but they also must be trusted by international companies transporting cargo to our region, especially during a pandemic when our city needs PPE, test kits, medical supplies and equipment. I would like to thank both the PAPD and the FBI's JFK Task Force for their diligence in taking down this crew."
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The District Attorney's Office identified the main defendants as 33-year-old David Lacarriere and 43-year-old Gary McArthur, both truckers who formerly worked at JFK Airport.
Authorities say that on the night of January 31, 2020, Lacarriere, using his knowledge of how shipments are picked up at the airport, went to the receiving office for an air cargo importer.
He allegedly showed a forged document listing the correct airway bill and flight details for a shipment of Prada products, and then he and McArthur, who enlisted the assistance of two others, allegedly used a tractor trailer to load four pallets of Prada merchandise into the truck and drove away.
According to the charges, this first heist netted the defendants approximately $804,000 in Prada bags, clothes and accessories. A few days later on February 4, 2020, police located the trailer used in the robbery. The inside was empty, except for the interior being doused in bleach.
Continuing, according to the indictment, on May 17, 2020, the same routine was repeated in a second JFK heist. One of the defendants posed as a truck driver and presented another forged document authorizing the release of merchandise from the same air cargo import company. Defendants Lacarriere, McArthur and Davon Davis and others allegedly hauled away 5 air freight pallets containing thousands of pieces of Chanel and Gucci merchandise valued in excess of $4.4 million.
Again, as detailed in the charges, the defendants allegedly abandoned the trailers used in the heist.
One trailer was found on May 29, 2020, on 56th Road in Maspeth. Inside, police found shipping pallets, wrapping material, shipping tags and display cases. The interior of this trailer was also drenched in bleach.
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Katz said that in June, police traced McArthur, Lacarriere, Davis and an unapprehended co-conspirator to a non-operational beauty salon allegedly used as a stash house for the stolen goods.
Surveillance video shows the defendants, including Davis, who is a former employee of Delta Airlines, going in and out of Candi World Beauty Bar at Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and 147th Avenue in Jamaica.
Davis has a connection with the owner of the closed beauty shop, Katz said, and it appeared the establishment was used by the defendants to store their stolen merchandise.
When police arrived to search the beauty shop on June 3, they allegedly interrupted a sale of stolen designer goods.
According to the charges, another unapprehended co-conspirator allegedly was the middle man and arranged for Lacarriere and McArthur to sell Alan Vu 117 items - mostly Chanel handbags.
Law enforcement observed Vu loading more than $300,000 worth of merchandise into the back of his white Mercedes SUV.
Continuing, Katz said, once inside Candi World, police executed a court-authorized search warrant and discovered mountains of boxes stuffed with stolen merchandise still in the manufacturers' packaging. In all police recovered more than 3,000 Gucci items - clothes and bags and other accoutrements. Just over 1,000 Chanel products - purses, jewelry, sunglasses and other accessories. The estimated value of the recovered merchandise totals more than $2.5 million.
"This multi-agency effort was a success for the security of the region and the rule of law," Port Authority Chief Security Officer John Bilich said. "Detectives from the Port Authority Police Department along with FBI Agents, and the Queens DA's Office displayed unrelenting dedication and commitment to solving this case and making sure that the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
They were arraigned Wednesday on charges including conspiracy, criminal possession of stolen property, and grand larceny.
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