During an “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” traffic safety checkpoint initiative that deputies conducted on Thursday, March 29, on Powerline Road in Haines City, an illegal alien with over 1,300 cans of baby formula stolen from grocery stores all over Florida was taken into custody by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies.
Around 7:30 p.m., during the checkpoint on Powerline Road, deputies stopped a red 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe being driven by a Hispanic male and asked for his driver’s license. The man produced what appeared to be a fraudulent Mexican driver’s license. Deputies asked the man to pull over to the side to further investigate the validity of the license, which they determined was indeed fake. They placed the man under arrest for No Valid DL, and Possession of a Counterfeit License, and as part of his arrest, searched his vehicle. Inside the vehicle, deputies found 77 grocery bags containing at least 18 cans of formula each, totaling over 1,300 cans with an estimated value of $18,400.
Deputies contacted Publix Loss Prevention authorities and asked for their assistance in tracing the origin of the cans. As of April 3, 2007, routing numbers on the cans showed they came from Winn Dixie, Publix, and Albertson’s stores, from as far away as St. Augustine. Meanwhile, the suspect was taken to the Polk County Jail and booked in, under the name John Doe because he refused to give his real name. Deputies at the jail ran the man’s fingerprints through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and got a positive identity of Noe Ruiz, DOB 12/6/83, an illegal immigrant.
At that point in time, Ruiz’s charges were the aforementioned charges, as well as Giving a False Name to Law Enforcement, Forgery, and Uttering a Forged Instrument, and a bond was set. The owner of the Tahoe, Roman Rico-Ruiz, DOB 3/9/83, of Houston, TX, came to post bond for Noe, and admitted to deputies that both men were in the country illegally. Deputies contacted U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and both men are now being held without bond pending their transfer to ICE, and they have both been charged with Grand Theft for the theft of the baby formula.
According to a survey by the Food Marketing Group, a Washington D.C. trade group, baby formula was the fourth most-often-shoplifted item last year. These latest arrests come just two weeks after 3 Lakeland residents were arrested in Pasco County for stealing baby formula there.