The first accused Miami robber in a $5 million gold heist pleaded guilty Monday to a leading role in the brazen plot to steal precious metals from a courier truck stopped at gunpoint on a North Carolina highway.
Roberto Cabrera admitted he recruited two other local men and gathered intelligence on the movement of gold shipments leaving Miami-Dade County before pulling off the caper last year, according to a statement filed with his plea agreement.
Cabrera came up with the idea of using a GPS tracking system to follow the truck and a disabling device to gain control of it, the statement said.
Cabrera and his two partners also obtained a white rental van for the robbery, and modified the vehicle by installing a large container of gasoline in the bed and connecting it with a tube to feed the gas tank.
“Thus, the conspirators were able to travel without the need to stop for refueling,” according to the statement.
Cabrera, 59, was convicted of two conspiracy offenses in carrying out and using a firearm in the March 1, 2015, robbery — along with possessing a bullet-proof vest that was found by FBI agents during a search last month at his Miami home.
Cabrera, whose plea agreement was reached between defense attorney Bruce Fleisher and federal prosecutor Michael Gilfarb, faces several years in prison. He has a prior criminal record, attempted robbery.
Cabrera’s plea follows last month’s arrest of his alleged partner, Adalberto Perez, an Opa-locka man who helped hatch the robbery scheme the previous year, FBI agents say. Perez, 46, has pleaded not guilty. The third robbery suspect is still at large.
Using a stolen credit card, Perez bought the GPS device that the robbers placed under a Miami tractor-trailer truck to track the TransValue couriers, FBI agents say in a criminal complaint. The two couriers were carrying 275 pounds of gold that belonged to Republic Metals of Opa-locka.
During the investigation, agents questioned a “confidential source” involved in a “close, personal relationship” with Perez. The source, his girlfriend, disclosed details of Perez's alleged heist of 10 gold bars as well as 40 silver-stamped coins, according to an affidavit filed with the complaint.
The girlfriend said she not only received the GPS and gave it to Perez. But the defendant also told her that he and his two co-conspirators placed pepper spray in the courier truck and remotely activated it so the couriers would get sick and have to pull over on Interstate 95 in North Carolina on the way to Massachusetts, the eventual destination.
The robbers confronted the couriers at gunpoint and yelled in Spanish, “Policia!”
They tied the couriers’ hands behind their backs and made them walk into the nearby woods. They then unloaded the gold bars and silver plugs into their white van.
Upon returning to Miami, “the conspirators evenly divided the gold and subsequently began the process of breaking it down for sale and selling it,” according to the statement filed with Cabrera’s plea agreement.
After the March 1, 2015 robbery, Perez showed his girlfriend one of the gold bars in the living room of his Opa-locka home, according to the FBI affidavit. She “touched the bar and felt that it was heavy,” roughly 26 pounds.