Chinese, Romanian Migrants Nabbed in Sophisticated Theft Ring near Border in California

Chinese, Romanian Migrants Nabbed in Sophisticated Theft Ring near Border in California

Border Patrol Agents in California arrested groups of migrants suspected of involvement in a sophisticated theft scheme involving stolen department store gift cards, possession of fraudulent identity documents, and credit card skimming activities. The pair of independent busts occurred in the El Centro Border Patrol Sector last week and involved five Chinese nationals in one case and two Romanian nationals in the second.

Early last week, Border Patrol agents near Indio, California, encountered five Chinese nationals at an interior Border Patrol immigration checkpoint. Agents found the migrants in possession of numerous stolen gift cards and 23 fraudulent Pennsylvania driver’s licenses. According to the Border Patrol, all five migrants were arrested. Three of the five Chinese nationals were determined to be asylum seekers released by DHS after entering the United States illegally.

In the second case — just days ago — Border Patrol agents near El Centro stopped a vehicle carrying two Romanian nationals. According to the Border Patrol, one of the Romanian nationals was in possession of a valid J-1 visa, indicating the Romanian was admitted to the United States after a petition from a U.S. business for the purposes of training and internship activities. The second Romanian national in the vehicle was found to be an asylum seeker released by DHS after entering the United States illegally.

The Romanian nationals, like the earlier case involving the Chinese nationals, were found to be in possession of numerous stolen retail gift cards. In addition, the pair were also in possession of credit card skimming electronic equipment.

The theft of retail gift cards by migrants is not a new phenomenon. In December, Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Ningning Sun, a Chinese migrant, after he was observed by deputies placing gift cards back on store shelves as he removed others. Sun was arrested after leaving the store with retail gift cards he was suspected of stealing from a Sacramento Target store. Sun was found to be in possession of 5,000 Apple and Target gift cards at the time of his arrest, deputies say.

Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper told reporters at the time of the arrest that the gift card scam involved the theft and reprogramming of the cards to route any funds added to a series of Chinese bank accounts rather than the card itself.

The apprehension of Romanian nationals crossing the southwest border pales in comparison to the surge in Chinese nationals recently experienced. The Border Patrol arrested 2,431 Romanian nationals in fiscal year 2023 and encountered nearly 600 Romanians between October and December this fiscal year.

According to Customs and Border Protection, the arrests of Chinese nationals at the southwest border continue to climb. In fiscal year 2023, more than 24,000 Chinese migrants crossed the southwest border, with most being released to pursue asylum claims in the United States. Between October and December, more than 15,000 Chinese nationals have been encountered illegally entering the United States.

According to the source within CBP, not authorized to speak to the media, more than 80% of the migrants from the People’s Republic of China are single adult males and females.

The source says intelligence debriefings yield little information about the Chinese migrants and their purpose for entering. The language barrier is proving to be a challenge, according to the source. The volume of migrants crossing from more than 280 countries during fiscal year 2023 negatively impacted the amount of time Border Patrol agents could dedicate toward debriefing individual migrants.

Breitbart Texas recently spoke to Dr. Kenneth Allard, a retired Army Colonel and former Dean of Students at the National War College, regarding the increase in Chinese nationals entering the United States. As an author of several works, including Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War, a former intelligence officer, and special assistant to the Army Chief of Staff, Allard is also concerned with the lack of intelligence regarding the spike in migrant apprehension of citizens from the People’s Republic of China.

Allard says the fact may be that most of the migrants from the PRC are, in fact, dissidents fleeing poor conditions in China. But as an expert on totalitarian regimes, he believes the current administration lacks the willpower to investigate the phenomenon properly.

“Totalitarian governments like China are great exploiters of opportunity. They recognize weakness and capitalize on it immediately. What we are seeing reflects a deliberate policy choice by the regime,” Allard told Breitbart Texas.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. 


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