Chilean suspects identified in Aspen jewelry robbery
The Aspen Times
Aspen police have identified three Chilean men as suspects in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollar’s worth of jewelry from the lobby of The Little Nell hotel last month.
Three arrest warrant affidavits were filed Friday and Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court, naming the men and how they were eventually identified by Aspen police with the help of other law enforcement agencies. The men have not yet been arrested and may have fled the country, an Aspen police detective said Wednesday.
The man who allegedly broke the lock on the hotel lobby glass display case rented by an Aspen jewelry store was identified as Richard Esteban Delgado Escobar, 28. The other two men with him were identified in the court documents as Diego Miqueles, 37, a Chilean living in Reseda, California, and Guiliano Maurizio Donoso Jofre, 40.
The three each have been charged with theft, burglary and conspiracy, all felonies. Miqueles and Donoso Jofre have criminal histories in California, including arrests Dec. 13 in Brea, California, according to the affidavits.
The theft in Aspen occurred Dec. 21 just after 1 p.m. Video surveillance showed the men parking a Ford Expedition rented in California on Spring Street at 12:11 p.m. that day, then entering The Little Nell and milling around the jewelry case before leaving at 12:40 p.m. The three men returned not long after and clustered around the display case.
Video surveillance showed the man identified as Delgado Escobar using something to help him pry open the case, then bend down and interact with a black backpack being held by one of the other men.
Just before parking the Expedition, video surveillance discovered by Aspen police showed the man later identified as Donoso Jofre paying cash for a folding knife at Ute Mountaineer at 12:05 p.m., according to the court documents.
The men were able to steal eight pieces of jewelry from the case — including diamond and gold rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces — valued at $419,300, the affidavits state. Previous reports indicated the value of the stolen jewelry at $800,000.
Aspen police initially searched for the wrong vehicle following the theft, the documents state. When they reviewed surveillance video, they identified the Expedition and discovered it was rented Dec. 18 in Panorama City, California, by a man named “Marco Sanchez” who used a Puerto Rico driver’s license.
That driver’s license number later came back to an 85-year-old man who clearly didn’t fit the description of any of the thieves, according to the affidavits.
The rented Expedition was found Dec. 23 in a parking garage at Denver International Airport.
DIA surveillance video later allowed Aspen police to track the three men through the airport to a Los Angeles-bound American Airlines flight that left Denver the early afternoon of Dec. 22, the affidavits state.
Delgado Escobar flew under the name “Marco Sanchez,” while the other two men presented boarding passes featuring their real names. Video footage from the L.A. airport shows the men leaving the terminal separately but all getting into the same shuttle van, according to the affidavits.
A Department of Homeland Security agent later contacted Aspen police and reported that he had used facial recognition software to substantially match a picture submitted with Delgado Escobar’s Chilean passport and U.S. visa application in 2014 to Sanchez’s Puerto Rican driver’s license photo.
Further, the agent discovered that a Chilean man who entered the U.S. on Oct. 6 under the name Raul Alejandro Escobar Bravo had the same fingerprints as Delgado Escobar, who was fingerprinted as part of his previous visa application, according to the court documents.
The other two men proved a bit easier to identify.
Miqueles’ criminal history indicated he’d been arrested in January 2017 for burglary, grand theft and conspiracy in Costa Mesa, California, and for battery of a spouse in December 2017 in Fresno, California. He also was arrested Dec. 13 for burglary, theft of an elder or dependent adult and grand theft in Brea. Records also indicate he was arrested in Santa Ana, California, on Dec. 13 for the same charges as the Brea arrest.
A Brea police detective told Aspen police that Miqueles and two other men followed a woman Nov. 26 after she withdrew cash from an ATM in Brea, then “conducted a ruse where one suspect placed money underneath her vehicle and the other approached her and suggested she dropped the cash,” according to Miqueles’ affidavit.
“Suspects took cash from the victim’s purse while she was distracted,” the affidavit states.
Miqueles and his girlfriend were arrested for a similar crime in Brea in 2017, the affidavit notes.
An Aspen police detective later found a 2012 Chilean newspaper article about a man with Miqueles’ similar name and age that said he was arrested at the time for his role in a $74 million robbery, though it was not clear if that was pesos or dollars, the affidavit states.
Donoso Jofre was in Miqueles’ car when he was arrested Dec. 13 for the alleged Brea crimes. In addition, he matched the description of a man seen in surveillance videos “related to dozens of distraction purse/wallet thefts that the Brea Police Department had been investigating,” according to the affidavits.
A Google search of Donoso Jofre’s name turned up a news item from 2012, which said a 33-year-old man with the same name had been arrested “for his role as a gang member in the theft of $44 million pesos, the equivalent of $2.2 million U.S. dollars,” according to his affidavit.
Pictures and video of the three men allowed Aspen police to identify them.
Donoso Jofre and Delgado Escobar have likely fled the country, Aspen Police Detective Ritchie Zah said Wednesday. Miqueles also may have fled, he said.