Man arrested for stealing 192 ventilators meant for critically ill COVID-19 patients in El Salvador
(DEL RIO, Texas) — A Florida man has been arrested for stealing nearly 200 ventilators that were meant to help critically ill COVID-19 patients in El Salvador, officials said.
Yoelvis Denis Hernandez, 42, was arrested Thursday in Del Rio, Texas, on a South Florida indictment, wanted for allegedly stealing a tractor trailer loaded with 192 medical ventilators on Aug. 9, 2020 as they were being transported by truck to Miami International Airport, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida announced Friday.
The ventilators were worth about $3 million, officials said.
The indictment charged him, along with an alleged accomplice, Luis Urra Montero, 24, with federal conspiracy, possession of stolen goods being shipped interstate, and theft of government property.
In the August incident, Hernandez helped detach a trailer vehicle holding the ventilators from a tractor as it was parked at a warehouse parking lot in Boynton Beach, Florida, at 1:47 a.m, according to the criminal complaint.
The trailer had been parked overnight. The truck was scheduled to deliver the ventilators to the Miami International Airport from where they’d be delivered to El Salvador, according to the complaint.
The ventilators were being sent to a COVID-19 intensive care facility in El Salvador as a part of a United States government COVID-19 aid program, authorities said.
The truck driver subsequently reported the theft of the trailer, court documents state. Authorities later located most of the ventilators, according to court documents, the Southern Florida U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
In September, the FBI offered a $5,000 reward for information on Hernandez’s whereabouts in the cargo theft and shared a photo of him on social media.
Hernandez made his initial federal court appearance Friday in the Western District of Texas and future proceedings will take place in the Southern District of Florida, where the case is pending. An attorney for Hernandez could not be immediately found.
Montero was arrested in September in Florida and is being detained without bond pending trial, authorities said. ABC News has reached out to Montero’s lawyer for comment.
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