By The Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Arrest warrants were issued for five people, and two criminal indictments were announced Monday as part of an extensive two-and-a-half-year organized retail theft investigation that was international in scope led by the District Attorney’s Office, according to San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Boudin said his office “initiated the operation,” which he described as “Operation Focus Lens,” after a series of thefts at Union Square Macy’s in December, 2019. He said investigators uncovered “a major, organized retail theft ring with international ties,” and the “recovery of approximately $2 million in suspected stolen property.”
Two people are under arrest, and three others are being sought on charges of organized retail theft, grand theft, possession of stolen property, and money laundering.
“My office is committed to combatting organized retail theft by targeting the source: the fencers who are profiting from the reselling of stolen goods. I am proud of our office’s leadership in uncovering this global operation,” said District Attorney Boudin in a statement Monday.
He added, “I am also thankful to the many law enforcement agencies who partnered with us and helped us successfully recover stolen goods and identify individuals responsible for driving organized retail thefts in San Francisco.”
Operation Focus Lens, said Boudin’s office, “led to the discovery and dismantling of another organized retail fence being operated out of a store front, Fashion Exchange.
According to the DA’s office, Assistant District Attorney Conrad del Rosario “secured indictments in August for possession of stolen property at the Criminal Grand Jury for Fashion Exchange owners Deanna Klinkovich and Floriya Pavlichenko.”
One of the people arrested in connection with the Operation— Rodolfo Castillo—was seen stealing more than $7,500 in retails goods, including a rack of clothing and a shipping box full of shoes over three excursions into Macy’s. He later admitted, said SF DA, he sold the good to the owners of Camera Haven, a front for reselling stolen clothing.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the San Francisco Police Department monitored monitoring the owners of Camera Haven, and “determined that they were selling stolen goods through their storefront, flea markets, and overseas,” said the DA Monday.
Working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, an arrest warrant for a Vietnamese national was issued.
In its statement Monday, the SF DA Office said:
“The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office created Operation Focus Lens in 2019 as part of the multi-jurisdictional Organized Retail Taskforce, which includes the California Highway Patrol Retail Crime Task Force, the San Francisco Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.
“Operation Focus Lens received additional assistance from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, BART, Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), the California Department of Justice, the Palo Alto Police Department, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, the Santa Clara Police Department, the Walnut Creek Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Western States Information Network (WSIN).
Operation Focus Lens emerged out of Operation Wrecking Ball, an investigation into the retail theft and sale of stolen merchandise at the 7th and Market Street area. Through Operation Wrecking Ball, the District Attorney’s Office recovered nearly $750,000 in stolen merchandise from Bay Area retailers.
“Operation Wrecking Ball remains an ongoing investigation in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Earlier this month, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office arrested Rodolfo Ivan Urbina Osejo for possession of stolen property in connection with Operation Wrecking Ball. Two arrest warrants remain outstanding.
“In addition to Operation Focus Lens and Operation Wrecking Ball, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is working with state and federal agencies on nearly half a dozen other confidential investigations to identify and dismantle the organized retail theft fencers who make retail theft crimes profitable.”