LEE COUNTY, FL – Police officials in Lee County, Florida, have announced the arrest of multiple individuals – several of whom are in the United States illegally – who were caught looting in the destructive wake of Hurricane Ian’s passing.
At a press conference Tuesday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno stated that his department has had their hands full combating the rampant looting and scavenging that has been taking place since the hurricane hit last week, and announced the arrests of four criminals to that end, three of whom are illegal immigrants.
Omar Mejia Ortiz, 33, Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, 26, Brandon Mauricio Araya, 20, and Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, 20 were all arrested on charges of burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency, Marceno said. Ortiz was also charged with petit larceny, and the other three suspects were charged with grand larceny.
“All three of these subjects are here illegally in this country – Robert Mena, Brandon Araya, Stephen Araya – all arrested for stealing bottles on Fort Myers Beach during the hurricane,” he said. “They were located and arrested. And I’m going to tell I’m not tolerating it again.”
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Marceno also decreed that the spike in looting following the Category 4 storm will not be tolerated, and that those caught doing so will feel the full force of the law.
“As far as looting, we have law and order in Lee County. We have law and order in our great state of Florida, and we always will,” he said. “Right now, we have four cases of looting, and I’m proud to say they’re behind bars where they belong. Our residents are going to be safe.”
And in a grim reminder, Marceno noted that many Floridians are law-abiding gun owners who may not take kindly to having their homes and businesses robbed.
“I’m not playing. We’re not playing. We have law and order and great residents will be safe and secure. We’ve had arrests on these incidents,” he said. “You might walk in. You’ll be carried out.”