MIAMI (WSVN) - Police are investigating after a van carrying hundreds of gallons of gas was found in the City of Miami, Tuesday.
Miami Police officers described the van as a “mobile bomb” and said inside was a 250 gallon drum filled with gasoline.
“This is a mobile bomb that actually could have probably taken out half the block,” said Miami Police Cmdr. Freddie Cruz.
Police said they got the tip about the van from an alert neighbor who smelled gas, saw gas leaking from the vehicle and called 911, at around 1 p.m.
Police had closed the 1200 block of Southwest Fourth Street to pedestrian traffic and Fourth Street between Southwest 12th Avenue and 13th Avenue to vehicular traffic.
Those roads have since reopened after the gas was “safely secured,” according to a tweet from police.
No injuries were reported, but officials said the consequences could have been catastrophic.
Area residents shared their opinions after learning about the hazard.
“Heaven knows what could’ve happened here,” said resident Alberto Robles. “It was parked over there, so if it blows, it goes into my house.”
“That’s scary. That’s very scary,” said resident Alex Garcia, “especially with the kids, and there’s a school right here, too.”
Police are now working to figure out who was driving the van and where it was going. Officials said the van is registered to a 24-year-old man who lives nearby, but they haven’t been able to find him.
“Individuals like this care so little about their fellow men and women and only care about making a buck, tells you the kind of individuals that they are,” said City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, “and these are the people that need to be in jail.”
“We don’t have anybody in custody, but we’re asking the public — anyone in the area that might have seen the person driving this van earlier in the day or in the week or has any information, please call immediately, because again, this is a very, very serious issue,” said Cruz.
Investigators said, in the past, when they’ve encountered situations like this, someone has stolen gas to sell it illegally at a discount price.
“Well, what we’ve seen in the past is that individuals actually steal gasoline, they make vans like this where it’s a mobile gas station, if you will,” said Cruz, “and they’ll go ahead and sell gasoline at a discount price.”
On Feb. 7, Davie Police had caught the driver of a pickup truck with an illegal gas tank in the bed. Miguel Guerrero was arrested and charged with using stolen credit cards to buy $600 worth of diesel fuel.
In a previous case, an employee called 911 after noticing gas leaking from the back of an air conditioning van in Miami, Aug. 8.
When police arrived at the gas station, located near Northwest 20th Street and 17th Avenue, they found a 275-gallon tank half full.
Officials determined stolen credit cards were used to fill up that tank as well. The driver was arrested.
In February of 2017, a man was arrested after, police said, he used 27 stolen credit cards to fill up at a Coral Gables gas station.
“Good morning, Mr. Gamboa. You were arrested for one count of trafficking in counterfeit credit cards,” said the judge during the subject’s appearance in bond court.
Investigators said they found a large illegal tank in the bed of his Ford F-350.
“Who’s posting the bond?” asked the judge in bond court. “How do I know it’s not money that he received from selling the illegal fuel?”
If you have any information on this van, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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