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South American gangs allegedly target high-end US homes as sheriff announces task force

The criminal crews are mostly from Latin America, and those operating in Southeast Michigan are believed to be mostly from Chile, officials said. 

Published: December 10, 2023 12:50pm

A Michigan county sheriff is announcing a new task force to fight home break-ins in upscale neighborhoods, as law enforcement across the United States attempts to crack down on so-called "crime tourists" – the term officials use to describe organized South American crime gangs who enter the U.S. to break into homes. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced the creation of a new task force to address a rise in break-ins in the Detroit area. The task force will include state and local law enforcement agencies as well as federal agencies such as the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Secret Service, local outlet WXYZ reported last week.

Dozens of homes have been hit by transnational gangs in the Detroit area since September, Bouchard said, with five robberies occurring last weekend alone. The crews are non-confrontational and will jam wifi security systems before entering multi-million dollar homes through the back windows, which are typically on the second story, Bouchard said. 

The criminal crews are mostly from Latin America, and those operating in Southeast Michigan are believed to be mostly from Chile, officials said. 

However, over the past year, officials have blamed international criminal organizations for break-ins in more than half a dozen states, including California, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Additionally, last year the FBI busted a network of alleged South American crime tourists who stole more than $2 million from Virginia homes and were connected to burglaries across the Carolinas, Georgia and Texas.

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