South American “Crime Tourists” Exploit US Visa System, Committing Burglaries Across the Nation

South American “crime tourists” have been infiltrating the United States for decades, exploiting the US visa system to enter the country and commit burglaries. Organized groups of burglars and jewel thieves, primarily from Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, have expanded their criminal activities to at least half the states in America, targeting wealthy homes and accumulating millions of untraceable goods.

Authorities have observed a recent surge in these crimes, particularly in cities such as Phoenix and Scottsdale in Maricopa County, Arizona. Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell stated that these groups take advantage of the friendly relationship between certain South American countries and the United States, allowing them to enter without undergoing thorough background checks. Once in the country, they commit nonviolent property offenses, ensuring that the bail requirements are high, enabling them to flee or disappear before facing trial and conviction.

The South American Theft Group, a broad term used by law enforcement agencies to describe these rings, has been responsible for hundreds of break-ins across major US cities, small towns, and gated communities. A Post analysis reveals that these burglaries have occurred in states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas, among others.

The FBI has been warning about these theft groups for years, acknowledging that they exploit tourist visas to facilitate the theft and transport of stolen goods internationally. However, the federal agency did not respond to inquiries from The Post regarding this issue.

Recent arrests in Scottsdale and Phoenix, as well as a separate spate of burglaries in Los Angeles and “millionaire neighborhoods” in Baltimore, highlight the ongoing criminal activities of these groups. The LAPD has noticed an increase in burglaries targeting affluent neighborhoods, with nearly 1,000 home burglaries recorded in LA this year alone. To counter this rise, the police department has formed a task force to address the involvement of Latin American gangs in targeting luxury homes in Southern California.

In Baltimore County, five suspects were arrested in February for burglarizing homes in “millionaire neighborhoods.” These individuals were positively identified as members of one of the South American theft groups and have been connected to additional residential burglaries in North Carolina, Alabama, and Oklahoma. The groups specifically target large homes in wealthy areas, often owned by Asian business owners.

The thieves primarily strike when homeowners are away, but they have also been known to pose as delivery drivers or utility workers to gain access. Their loot typically includes jewelry, watches, designer merchandise, cash, and gold bars.

One notable incident occurred in Greenwich, Connecticut, where a South American thief climbed through a kitchen window and stole a safe containing high-end jewelry valued at over $1.65 million. The stolen-property list provided by the homeowners ran 89 pages. The suspect, Migrant Cortes Munoz, had never been documented crossing the border and had multiple visa applications denied. Homeland Security files suggest that Cortes Munoz entered the country illegally and was recognized as an active member of a South American Theft Group.

Author: CrimeDoor

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