Florida Gold Theft Suspect on Run for Year Nabbed in Belize

Thursday, 08 May 2014 09:46 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The man thought responsible for Florida's biggest gold theft ever is back in U.S. police custody this week after being on the run for more than a year.

Raonel Valdez-Valhuerdis, 34, is accused of swiping two suitcases containing more than 100 pounds of gold flakes worth nearly $3 million in Coral Gables, Florida, in October 2012, CNN reported.

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Officials say Valdez held up George Villegas, a Florida man who was carrying the suitcases full of gold out of his apartment. Villegas' family reportedly owns Quri Wasi, a Bolivian-based company that purchases the precious metal, melts it down, and sells it.

Valdez got away, but was soon arrested when police tracked his ankle-monitoring GPS device, which a judge ordered him to wear after he was convicted of battery about five months before the gold theft, CNN noted.

He then fled the country after posting bond in December 2012 and wasn’t seen again until February 2014, when Belize police detained him at the Guatemala border.

Valdez has been charged with armed robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, grand theft of more than $100,000, and altering/tampering with an electronic monitor, according to CNN.

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