HOUSTON – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston and the Houston Police Department (HPD) arrested 3 individuals and seized around 1,900 stolen electronic devices valued at approximately $1.8 million May 17 as part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected $65 million transnational organized retail crime scheme to smuggle stolen cell phones and other electronics overseas and launder the illicit proceeds.
Individuals arrested were Akber Jesani, 39, and Hardin Ameena, 28, both residents of Sugarland, Texas, and Shamshuddin Dosani, 52-year-old resident of Richmond, Texas. All three are charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, aggregate theft, and money laundering in violation of Texas law. The Harris County (Texas) District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting all three individuals.
HSI and HPD also executed search warrants on 14 bank accounts at eight different financial institutions that are alleged to contain illicit revenue from the scheme. At the time of this release, a final amount for the funds seized is not available.
In total, the scheme is believed to have produced more than $65 million in illicit revenue and resulted in countless victims across the U.S. having their identities stolen and cellular communications companies being defrauded of millions of dollars in equipment.
Following the operation, leaders from HSI, HPD and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office explained why combatting organized retail crime is important.
“Organized retail crime is responsible for the theft of between $30-69 billion in consumer goods each year, which inevitably results in the public having to pay higher prices for goods at the register,” said HSI Houston Deputy Special Agent in Charge Robert Kurtz. “HSI Houston and HPD are determined to break this vicious cycle by aggressively targeting the criminal networks and sophisticated money laundering schemes that these organizations use to rake in millions on the backs of hardworking consumers. Today’s operation was a good example of that grit and determination, but we have much more work to do to root out this complex problem.”
“This is a perfect example of the collaboration between our local, state and federal partners to take violent offenders off the streets that continue to prey on innocent citizens in our city,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner. “I want to thank our partners for their efforts in helping our Major Offenders Division locate and arrest these individuals and continue to make this ‘One Safe Houston’.”
“By shutting down this criminal group we are shutting off the money tap that is funding the victimization of thousands of people across the Houston-area and beyond,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
Five other Texas residents have previously been arrested related to this scheme including: Damaris Valero, a 26-year-old resident of Houston charged with forgery; Trevyn Harris, a 20-year-old resident of Bay City charged with engaging in organized criminal activity; Jessenia Velasquez, a 36-year-old resident of Channelview charged with possession of a controlled substance; Francis Bashorun, a 20-year-old resident of Katy charged with fraud and fraudulent use/possession of identifying documents with an enhancement for taking advantage of the elderly; and Jaquon Dick, a 41-year-old resident of Houston charged with mail theft and fraudulent possession of identifying documents.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.