Maryland authorities bust Houston-based criminal ring targeting homes of Asian, Middle Eastern families


Authorities in Silver Spring, Maryland arrested the three men when a homeowner called 9-1-1 to report a suspicious vehicle across the street from a home burglarized a week earlier. Inside that vehicle, police say they found a list of eight homes, all belonging to families of Asian or Middle Eastern descent.

Police say the three suspects are 29-year-old Yesid Valencia, Yaniel Regalado-Muniz, 34, and 36-year-old Alejandro Colorado-Rivas. All three men told investigators they live in Houston.

They believe the men, who arrested in Silver Spring, Maryland, are connected to a multi-agency investigation into a series of related burglaries since October 2012.

The ring, which consists of Colombian nationals in U.S. illegally, is believed to ship all of the stolen goods like gold jewelry, cash, guns, and documents to Houston, where it is sold for profit.

The men told detectives that they got the target addresses from an unnamed source in Houston.

This case rings similar to one in Fort Bend County in 2012, in which more than a dozen homes were burglarized; and another in 2009 in Montgomery and Harris counties in which a Colombian national was arrested on suspicion of as many as 93 burglaries. That suspect was believed to be part of a criminal gang targeting the homes of Asians and Indians.

Neighbors of the victims in Maryland were upset to learn their friends were so carefully targeted.

"I guess there was some gold that was stolen. That is part of the culture of the people next door, which is sad to see people targeted for that," Maryland resident Stephen Stoval said.

We have reached out to several law enforcement agencies locally and in Washington seeking further information about the alleged gang but have yet to get any further details about who they are or what, if any, investigation is occurring in southeast Texas.

We do know that law enforcement in Maryland is using cell phone records of calls made from Houston to the targeted homes trying to identify additional suspects.

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