2 arrested in connection with semi-trailer theft ring

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Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 10:55 AM EST
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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Two men have been charged with a combined 67 felonies after deputies say there was an organized cargo theft ring where multiple business were defrauded and wooden pallet and semi-trailers were taken.

PCSO detectives charged 45-year-old Bobby John Herrera, Jr. from West Palm Beach and 36-year-old Nicholas Nigel Howard of Opa Locka in connection with the crime. Five businesses were defrauded of about $704,487 of wooden pallets and 25 semi-trailers were stolen.

The investigation started in July 2021 after seven semi trailers were taken from two different distribution centers – Saddle Creek Logistical Services in Auburndale and the Walmart Distribution Center in Winter Haven – that contained a large quantity of wooden pallets.

During the initial investigation, detectives say they were able to identify three semi-trucks with trailers filled with pallets had been either stolen or burglarized by Herrera. Detectives say the crime was caught on surveillance camera. Herrera is the owner of JCI Pallet in Plant City.

PCSO detectives traveled to JCI Pallet and met with Herrera. When detectives showed him one of the security videos, Herrera said, “That looks like me.”

Herrera was initially arrested in September with the assistance of the Plant City Police Department and transported to the Hillsborough County Jail where he was later released on a $4,000 bond.

As the investigation continued, detectives learned that Howard, the on-site manager of JCI Pallet allegedly assisted Herrera in removing stolen trailers filled with pallets from two different distribution centers, affecting four different companies.

Bobby John Herrera, Jr. was again arrested in Plant City and transported to the Hillsborough County Jail with additional Polk County charges for:

  • Burglary of Occupied Structure (F2) (13 Counts)
  • Burglary of Unoccupied Conveyance (F3) (15 Counts)
  • Forgery (F2) (2 Counts)
  • Grand Theft $100,000 or More (F1)
  • Grand Theft (F2)
  • Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle (F3) (19 counts)
  • Theft of Cargo in Stream of Commerce (F3)
  • Use of a 2-way Device to Commit a Felony (F3)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft (F2)

Herrera’s previous criminal history includes out of state charges from Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico for credit card abuse, issuing bad checks, fraud, money laundering, theft, illegal control of enterprise, forgery, conspiracy, tampering with evidence, burglary of an automobile, and violation of probation.

Nicholas Nigel Howard was arrested in Opa Locka and transported to the Miami-Dade County Jail with Polk County charges for:

  • Burglary of Occupied Structure (F3) (3 Counts)
  • Grand Theft Motor Vehicle (F3) (4 Counts)
  • Grand Theft (F2)
  • Burglary of Unoccupied Conveyance (F3) (3 Counts)
  • Use of 2-way Communication Device (F3)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft (F3)

Howard’s previous criminal history includes charges of fraud, trespassing, resisting a law enforcement officer, possession of marijuana, violation of probation and failure to appear.

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