It was an operation both sophisticated and brutish, employing financial databases, demographic data, pinpoint targets, the element of surprise and violence and intimidation, says NJ Advance Media. Its members included a hulking Colombian national, an aspiring teenage model with a steady job and a troubled young man who relatives said had served in the U.S. Army. Presiding over it all was a 39-year-old mother of five. For the past few months, the Houston-based crew has terrorized Asian and Asian-Indian communities across the eastern half of the U.S., carrying out home-invasion robberies in which victims were bound with duct tape and, in some cases, beaten or pistol-whipped.
The group, charged last week with five attacks in New Jersey, has now been linked to home invasions in Michigan, Georgia and Texas. Detectives say the same suspects might be responsible for a Long Island home invasion on Halloween. Interviews with law enforcement officials and with family members and friends of the suspects produced a portrait of the defendants. Investigators in various states pieced the case together, contributing critical strands of information that displayed the operation's extraordinary reach. Detective Christopher Bradshaw of the Milton, Ga., police department, says, “Who knows where these guys have been? There are places where we've already made connections, and that's through the hard work of (investigators) in Michigan and New Jersey. But where there's smoke, there's fire, and there's got to be more. It's just a matter of connecting the dots.”