WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Third suspect sought in 2015 gold heist

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Federal authorities have indicted a third suspect in connection to the $4.8 million gold heist along Interstate 95 in Wilson nearly four years ago.

Pedro Santamaria, 56, is charged with conspiracy to commit a robbery in interstate commerce and conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Santamaria is wanted for his alleged involvement in the March 2015 tractor-trailer robbery where thieves made off with 275 pounds of gold bars. He’s from the Miami area and also has ties to California, Louisiana and Texas, according to the FBI.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement Thursday.

The indictment alleges that Santamaria conspired to commit the crimes along with Roberto Cabrera and Adalberto Perez, both of whom previously pleaded guilty in connection to the case. In October, the FBI announced it was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Santamaria’s arrest and conviction.

Santamaria is accused of being a gunman during the robbery. The FBI has said he tied victims up and dragged them into the woods. A warrant for his arrest was issued in 2016.

Cabrera was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, while Perez received roughly 11 years for his role in the robbery, according to The Associated Press.

THE HEIST

Thieves used a GPS device in March 2015 to track the gold-laden tractor-trailer heading from Miami to Massachusetts. Investigators say pepper spray was released by remote control to sicken the driver and a passenger before the I-95 heist.

The shipment of gold bars aboard a TransValue Inc. truck was hijacked in Wilson County by three reportedly armed men on its way from Republic Metals near Miami to Bridgewater, Massachusetts, according to court documents.

The TransValue tractor-trailer departed Miami on March 1, 2015, and was scheduled to arrive in Massachusetts the next day, officials said.

Around 6:30 p.m. on March 1, while traveling along I-95 in Wilson County, TransValue employees pulled the tractor-trailer over on the side of the interstate.

After stopping, the truck and its occupants were reportedly accosted by two of the armed men who announced themselves as “Policia” and placed traffic cones near the truck. The men, who gave instructions in Spanish, tied up the truck’s occupants and led them into the woods before making entry into the trailer and stealing about $4.8 million in gold bars.

The robbers reportedly left in a white van. Federal documents said it appeared the suspects had prior knowledge of the location of the buckets of gold in the tractor-trailer. Two of the reported victims said the robbers took smaller packages containing silver, too.

According to the driver and passenger of the TransValue vehicle, the robbers knew where the gold was and ignored a number of other 50-gallon drums containing silver.

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