HAMMOND, La. (BRPROUD) — Members of a Colombian theft ring were arrested in Tickfaw, Louisiana, after reportedly stealing more than 160 cellphones during New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities, according to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief James “Jimmy” Travis reported the arrest of four individuals connected to a pickpocketing scheme during Mardi Gras.  

“I would call it a target-rich environment for a pickpocketer down in New Orleans during carnival season,” said Travis.

The investigation began after the chief received a call from an Iberville Sheriff’s deputy who said his son was “pickpocketed” during a Mardi Gras event. The “Find My Phone” app led detectives to a rental property in Tickfaw. As a result, a search warrant was obtained and executed at that address.  

“I mean pretty much, any of the new iPhones, you’re looking at $1,000, which is what it’ll cost you to replace them,” said Travis. “We think these are possibly being shipped out of the country where they could be getting a thousand or more for them.”

Four suspects were arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

  • 24-year-old Geinier Acevebo-Jimenez 
  • 26-year-old Jean Paul Sabogal-Angortia
  • 31-year-old Bridgette Solorzano-Rodriguez
  • 36-year-old Yudi Tatiana Solorzano Sanchez

As the investigation continued, detectives learned there were more suspects engaged in this ongoing theft. 

On Monday, Feb. 20, TPSO stated a search warrant was executed on a second apartment in the same Tickfaw rental complex.  As a result, seven more suspects were arrested and 122 additional cell phones such as newer iPhones, Androids and AirPods were recovered.

All 11 suspects have been booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail until further notice.

“We’ve had some of the individuals with multiple IDs,” said Travis. “That’s why we’re asking several of the federal agencies to come in and assist us in getting a true identity on these individuals.” 

Authorities with federal agencies have indicated all persons arrested and identified them as members or associates of a large Colombian theft ring that’s operating in the United States. One male suspect is currently being sought by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

The seven additional arrests include:

  • 30-year-old Kely Yojana Forero-Mendoza 
  • 24-year-old Paula Daniela Canaria-Villamil 
  • 33-year-old Paola Fernanda Consuegra-Gavlis 
  • 30-year-old Jhon Alexander Flores-Munoz 
  • 26-year-old Yuli Oney Gutierrez 
  • 31-year-old Ronald Steven Carvajal 
  • 47-year-old Jorge Jimenez 

The suspects have been charged with possession of stolen property and criminal conspiracy in Tangipahoa Parish.

The chief said they could face federal theft charges in New Orleans. If that is the case, it is possible for them to be transported to New Orleans prison.

During the investigation at the rental property, Travis mentioned they found receipts from the suspects — all from Florida, New York, and Chicago — and two vehicles.

To report a stolen cellphone, click on “Report Stolen Cell Phone” from the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office website, or click here to fill out the paperwork.