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Alleged ATM theft ringleaders arrested

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / March 22, 2011

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WOBURN — The suspected ringleaders of a network that allegedly burglarized ATMs in six Massachusetts counties, stealing more than $340,000 in cash, were arrested and arraigned yesterday.

Authorities say the suspects used stolen sport utility vehicles, blowtorches, and lookouts and snapped wires to surveillance and alarm systems as part of their scheme targeting cash machines in Dracut, Framingham, and other communities in 2007 and 2008. The ring also stole items from businesses and apparently made plans to expand their criminal activities into other cities and towns.

“These alleged brazen thefts involved extensive planning and scouting of locations and the execution of those plans,’’ said Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Indictments were issued last week against 16 people, and yesterday morning authorities arrested four of them; Francisco Ortiz, Wilson Martinez Jr., James J. McNeil, and Feliciano Colon. They face charges ranging from breaking and entering to larceny. The other suspects are expected to be issued criminal summons to face similar charges. Some of those suspects are in custody on unrelated charges.

The FBI worked in conjunction with State Police and local law enforcement officials on an investigation that began in April 2007. A major break came when a confidential source divulged information about the ring’s activities, according to officials.

Ortiz was arraigned yesterday morning in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn and through his attorney entered a plea of not guilty.

Ortiz, 37, of Lowell, has held an upper management accountant position with a security company in Dracut for the past 14 years and had joint custody of three children, said Arthur L. Kelly, who represented Ortiz only for the arraignment. He has had no court involvement since 1995, when he was charged with drug possession with intent to distribute.

In this case, Ortiz was ordered held on $20,000 cash bail.

Martinez, 33, of Pepperell, was arraigned in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. Colon, 35, of Lawrence was arraigned in Essex Superior Court in Salem. Both were also ordered held on $20,000 cash bail. McNeil, 43, of Haverhill was arraigned in Worcester Superior Court and ordered held on $50,000 cash bail.

Another man suspected of playing a major role in the burglaries and other crimes is in custody. Miguel A. Carabello faces 55 charges, ranging from multiple counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny of a motor vehicle, and malicious destruction of property.

In June 2008, Carabello escaped from custody while being transported to Salem District Court to face a pretrial conference on kidnapping and home invasion charges, according to authorities. He was apprehended several hours later.

Court records detail the incidents, suggesting the burglaries were well planned, well timed, and involved familiarity with the locations.

According to the court records, Carabello and two other suspects allegedly stole an SUV from a movie theater parking lot in Burlington and traveled to the rear of a building at 353 Great Road in Bedford in January 2008. There, they climbed onto the roof of the building, made a hole, and lowered themselves into an unused retail office. An accomplice allegedly was parked at a nearby gas station and served as a lookout. At the building, the suspects broke through a wall and into a Bank of America ATM kiosk. They disabled the security and surveillance systems and left by a back door, which they left unlocked. The suspects returned to the SUV and waited an hour before returning with a torch, cutting open the ATM vault, and stealing more than $73,000 in cash and deposits.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.