Two men impersonated ICE agents to rob Latino residents, Anaheim police say

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Two men have been arrested for allegedly impersonating U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to steal money from Latino residents, according to the Anaheim Police Department.

Law enforcement officials said they responded to consecutive robberies on Thursday between 5 and 6 p.m. —the first on the 900 block of South Euclid Street and the second at the intersection of Brookhurst Street and La Palma Avenue. Several hours later, they identified the suspects as Laurentiu Baceanu and Vasile Alexandru, 19, according to a news release.

According to the victims’ testimony to police, the two men spoke Spanish, presented fake badges and proceeded to coerce money out of residents before taking off in a blue SUV.

Anaheim police gave Baceanu’s age as 19, but Orange County jail records show that he is 20.

Impersonating a federal agent is a crime that can carry up to three years in prison and there is a possibility that they will face additional charges locally. Neither man was armed, police said. Both are booked without bail and facing several counts of robbery.

Last year, A San Ysidro man was indicted by a Santa Ana grand jury for stealing $200,000 from undocumented immigrants who sought legal help with their immigration status. In 2018, another man was sentenced to eight months in prison after dressing up as an ICE official to extort a woman of $5,000 under the threat of deportation.

Anaheim police are working with local, state and federal agencies to as part of the investigation, said Sgt. Jon McClintock. The U.S. attorney’s office in Santa Ana declined to comment on the case. The Orange County District Attorney’s office did not respond to a phone call or email request for comment.

Anaheim isn’t the only municipality dealing with fake ICE officials, McClintock said. The department has been collaborating with other agencies across California, investigating similar robberies that have been happening “for several weeks throughout the state,” he said. “We believe they’re connected.”

He said he knows of at least five identical thefts that happened in Anaheim and more across Orange County. The department is investigating whether other suspects or accomplices are involved. Detectives say they think the vehicles involved in this series of robberies include a silver or gray Volkswagen Atlas SUV and a blue Audi Q7 SUV.

McClintock asked other victims to come forward. The detective assigned to the case is John Carey, who can be reached at (714) 765-1973 or JCarey@anaheim.net

He added that undocumented victims don’t have to fear over their legal immigration status if they report a crime, saying that their department does not cooperate with federal ICE officials.

“We will not inquire about their [citizenship],” McClintock said. “It might be pertinent, potentially to some type of crime if that’s related, but the Anaheim Police Department will not enforce any type of immigration [law].”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.