On September 18, 2021, deputies with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office responded to three residential burglaries located in the “North Ranch” community of Westlake Village and Oak Park. These residences were within approximately 4 miles of each other, and the modus operandi of the crimes were all very similar. On September 22, 2021, detectives with the Thousand Oaks Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) and Thousand Oaks Investigations Bureau located and arrested the burglary suspects in the 6900 block of Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood.
On September 18, 2021, at approximately 1900 hours, deputies responded to a call for service regarding a possible residential burglary that had just occurred in the 6200 block of Smoke Tree Avenue in Oak Park. Deputies responded and contacted a witness who observed two unknown suspects exit the back yard of the residence and flee the area. Deputies confirmed a residential burglary occurred at the residence. Later the same evening, deputies responded to a call for service regarding a possible residential burglary that had occurred at approximately 2100 hours in the 1800 block of Falling Star Avenue in North Ranch. Deputies confirmed a burglary had been committed in a similar manner to the prior residential burglary.
On September 19, 2021, deputies responded to a residential burglary that had occurred sometime between September 17 and September 19, 2021 in the 4200 block of Coachman Circle in North Ranch. Deputies confirmed a residential burglary had been committed in a similar manner to the previous two residential burglaries.
Detectives with SEU and the Thousand Oaks Investigations Bureau conducted an investigation and were able to identify the suspects involved in the residential burglary at the Smoke Tree residence. On September 22, 2021, detectives contacted the suspects as they left a hotel in the 11000 block of Vanowen Street in North Hollywood. Detectives arrested three suspects for their involvement in the burglary of the Smoke Tree residence. Juan Porras Espinoza, a 23 year-old resident of North Hollywood, was identified by his Chilean Passport and determined to be a member of the South American Theft Group (SATG). SEU detectives recognized Espinoza from a prior investigation into a series of vehicle burglaries in the Westlake and North Ranch area in March 2021. SEU detectives arrested Espinoza along with other SATG co-conspirators on March 31, 2021 for a variety of felonious vehicle burglary and identity theft related crimes. Espinoza pled guilty to multiple felonies and was released from custody on September 10, 2021 after completing his sentence for his conviction.
Detectives identified the second suspect as Jofre Enrique Munoz, 27 year-old resident of North Hollywood who was also determined to be a Chilean National and SATG member. Detectives determined Munoz had a felonious criminal record in Ohio. Detectives identified the third suspect as Juana Saly Troncoo Gonzalez, 52 year-old resident of North Hollywood who was also determined to be a Chilean National and SATG member.
Detectives were able to associate the suspects to two hotel rooms at a nearby hotel. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the hotel rooms and obtained evidence linking the suspects to the Smoke Tree burglary. Detectives also located burglary tools consistent with residential burglaries and a large amount of property believed to have been obtained through Identity Theft crimes. Detectives also located property that was determined to have been recently stolen from a victim in Bakersfield. Detectives are sharing information about the found property and the suspects with the Bakersfield Police Department.
All three suspects were booked into the Pre-Trial Detention Facility for Residential Burglary – 459 PC, and Conspiracy to Commit a Crime – 182(a)(1) PC, where their bail was set at $250,000. Detectives are continuing their investigation to obtain additional evidence linking the suspects to the burglaries that occurred at the Falling Star Avenue and Coachman Circle residences.
Like many other areas in Southern California, the North Ranch and Oak Park areas have seen a significant rise in residential burglaries committed by SATG members. SEU detectives continue to collaborate with investigators from local law enforcement agencies regarding this crime trend. Over the last three months, investigators believe SATG members have committed at least 40 residential burglaries in Ventura and Orange Counties. Since July 14, 2021, law enforcement agencies in Ventura County and Orange County have arrested 14 SATG members for their involvement in residential burglaries. SEU detectives will continue to collaborate with our local law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate all criminals targeting the residences of innocent community members.