One of two alleged co-conspirators who remained at large last year as authorities announced four had been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $6 million in luxury goods using tractor-trailers in two complex heists at JFK Airport, has been arrested, the Queens district attorney's office said Thursday.
Oscar Asencio, 32, has been arraigned on an indictment in Queens Supreme Court on charges of conspiracy and criminal possession of stolen property for allegedly possessing, protecting and selling off nearly half of the $5.3 million worth of stolen designer gear from the second heist. That second theft involved Chanel jewelry and handbags, Gucci sneakers, purses, sunglasses and clothing.
A judge remanded the Astoria man after the hearing. Attorney information for him wasn't immediately available. If convicted, Asencio faces up to 25 years in prison.
“On the run since October, this defendant is now in custody and facing very serious charges. The defendant is accused of participating in selling off millions of dollars’ worth of stolen merchandise taken from JFK Airport," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. "Our airports are supposed to be secure for both people and the goods imported into our region."
The Port Authority's chief security officer, John Bilich, applauded the multi-agency effort that brought Asencio into custody.
More than $800,000 in Prada merchandise was stolen in the first heist, prosecutors have said. The second heist was in May 2020. All but $2.5 millino worth of merchandise was sold, officials say.
The two primary defendants, indicted in October 2020, were both truckers who formerly worked at JFK and allegedly used their "inside knowledge" to coordinate the heists. According to the indictment, one of those two allegedly went to the receiving office for an air cargo importer on Jan. 31 and showed a forged document with an airway bill and flight details for a Prada shipment.
He and the other primary defendant, who allegedly enlisted the assistance of two others, then loaded four pallets of Prada merchandise onto a tractor-trailer and drove off, prosecutors said. That was the first heist -- in January.
The truck involved in the robbery was found a few days later, but it was empty -- and the interior had been doused in bleach.
The crew allegedly repeated the same routine in a separate JFK heist on May 17, which is the one in which Asencio was allegedly involved. Again, one of the prime defendants allegedly posed as a truck driver while another presented another forged document -- and the group made off with five air freight pallets containing thousands of Chanel and Gucci items worth millions of dollars.
That tractor-trailer was also recovered a few days later, once again with an interior drenched in bleach. Shipping tags and display cases were also still inside.
In June, prosecutors say police tracked down the crew members to a nonoperational beauty salon they say was used as a stash house for the stolen goods. Asencio allegedly helped protect the merchandise in that "salon" and was seen on surveillance video carrying bags filled with stolen goods in and out of the building. He also allegedly helped sell the stolen items from the stash house.
The two primary defendants and two other people had been in custody in connection with the alleged scheme since October. Asencio and one other alleged co-conspirator who has not been identified publicly were still being sought. It wasn't immediately clear how authorities tracked Asencio down.