MIAMI (WSVN) - A Miami man is facing serious charges one day after police officers serving a narcotics search warrant at his home uncovered what they described as an organized retail theft ring.
Miami Police arrested 59-year-old Leonardo Ruiz on charges of cocaine trafficking, money laundering and possession of drug paraphernalia, among other offenses.
City of Miami Police Chief Manny Morales spoke with reporters Wednesday evening.
“We’re glad that he’s off the streets,” he said.
Ruiz’s arrest followed the execution of the search warrant at his home in the area of Northwest 24th Avenue and 14th Street.
The investigation revealed that Ruiz was not only involved in drug-related activities, but was also the ringleader in an organized retail theft ring.
“He set up his own little store here,” Morales said.
Morales said that hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen property — including drills, impact windows and a large quantity of liquor — were found during the operation.
George Gonzalez, a tenant at the home, spoke with 7News Thursday evening.
“I just freaked out. I’m shocked,” he said.
Gonzalez said Ruiz was not only his landlord but his roommate as well.
“I see a lot of movement that wasn’t, like, normal, so I would just stay to myself, do you know what I’m saying?” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez sad he had just moved into Ruiz’s house three weeks ago. He showed 7News the room he is renting.
“I just moved it. I’ve got an air mattress right here,” he said.
Video recorded by Miami Police on Thursday showed the stolen merchandise set up on tables at the department headquarters.
Police said each item has its own story and belongs somewhere else other than the police impound unit.
Police said Ruiz would buy from shoplifters across South Florida in exchange for narcotics. The stolen merchandise originated from various retailers, including CVS, T.J. Maxx, Home Depot, and more.
On Thursday, police invited representatives from retail stores across the city and county to come to the impound unit to see if any of these items belong to them.
“This is an organized retail theft ring that impacted all of us by driving up prices,” said Morales
It was because of the drugs that Ruiz was taken into custody. According to the report, undercover agents from Miami Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration purchased just under a gram of cocaine from Ruiz using Miami Police money on Nov. 30. On Wednesday, they arrested him at his home.
Investigators estimated that the recovered items amount to close to a million dollars in value.
Gonzalez said he knew Ruiz but had no idea what he was up to.
“I saw a lot of people coming in and out of here,” he said.
Gonzalez stressed that he was unaware of what was happening on the other side of his wall.
“I woke up to somebody knocking on my door. It was three officers, they pulled me out,” he said.
Thursday afternoon, Ruiz appeared in a wheelchair before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel M. de la O. The judge went through his various charges and gave him bond on several of them. However, one charge has no bond, so Ruiz is staying locked up for now.
“We are conferring with the State Attorney and even the U.S. Attorney to make sure that he is charged to the fullest extent of the law,” said Morales.
Back at Ruiz’s house, Gonzalez said he is taking care of his landlord’s dogs, who escaped during the raid but had nowhere to go.
“That’s his dog. They left it outside, so I brought it inside, because it’s raining and the dog was outside,” he said.
Gonzalez said he doesn’t know whether or not he will be able to continue to live in the home.
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