8 Men Face Charges in Years-Long Beer Heist

The thefts took place between 2022 and 2024

Modelo cans
Modelo was among the beers at the center of the heist.

Earlier this week, a high-profile cash heist in Los Angeles served as a reminder of what the stakes can be in this type of theft. Sometimes, as is the case with the California crime, heists involve large amounts of money, full stop — but that’s not the only kind out there. Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York released a series of charges in what one U.S. Attorney described as “staggering thefts” involving beer. Lots and lots of beer.

According to the indictment, the eight men accused of the heists embarked on a series of beer thefts from trains during the course of just less than two years. According to the Southern District, the thefts cost beer distributors “at least hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The thefts focused largely on Modelo and Corona, and the accused are charged with moving pallets of beer from trains into box trucks, then transporting it to the Bronx for resale. As The New York Times reports, the accused organizer of the heists — dubbed the “Beer Theft Enterprise” by the indictment — used Instagram to recruit people to take part in the thefts.

“Train heists harken back to the days of the Wild West and gunslingers riding horses, stealing loot from rail cars,” said FBI Special Agent James E. Dennehy in a statement. “The romanticized image has nothing to do with the modern-day criminals we allege took part in a theft ring in New Jersey, New York and beyond that targeted railyards and beverage distribution centers.”

Massive Champagne Heist Ends in Police Chase
The champagne involved was valued at over $650,000

While several people accused of being involved with the heists face a range of charges, the man accused of being behind the thefts — one Jose Cesari — faces the most serious charges, including one with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Six of the eight people charged were arrested earlier this week, while another is in custody in the state of Connecticut.


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