Miami Beach Police cite federal law to convict criminals targeting tourists

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach Police are working to crack down on criminals who target tourists in hopes of making the beach a safer place.

Police are citing the Federal Hobbs Act against Miami Beach criminals, which can be applied when a victim’s status as a tourist causes the crime committed against them to diminish the city’s profile on a commercial level.

“If people come here and they leave with a lasting memory that they were victimized while they were here in Miami Beach, that affects our ability to attract more tourists, so it has a direct link to interstate commerce,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates.

Oates said the U.S. Attorney’s office has already announced the conviction of five armed robbers who were prosecuted in federal court, Tuesday.

At least another group of four were also convicted for two separate Hobbs Act armed robberies or conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery in 2017 and 2018.

“One of the defendants got 30 years in jail. All of the others got very significant jail time,” said Oates. “They all had significant criminal histories before this occurred.”

The hope is to squash the notion that Miami Beach is fair game with easy prey through more prosecutions with the Hobbs Act.

“‘Hey, my memory of Miami Beach is ruined by this experience. I am not likely to come back,’ which is terrible for us and something we want to avoid,” said Oates.

Officials said there are more pending cases where they hope to use the Hobbs Act.

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