In the largest recovery of stolen property in the Bay Area, five men have been arrested and charged in a $37 million computer-chip heist, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office reported today.
The men arrested—Jesus Meraz Jr., 25; Dylan Catayas Lee, 32; Rolando McKay Secreto, 38; and Leonard Abriam, 31, all of San Jose; and Pierre Ramos, 28, of Union City—allegedly entered a Unigen Corp. chip . 27, held Unigen employees at gunpoint, tied them up and forced them to a back room. Then the masked robbers loaded the chips, which at the time were valued at $27 million, into a large truck and left.
"We know that in this robbery, there were an excess of 15 suspects involved in the robbery," said Sterner, who explained that with the investigation ongoing, a lot of details will not be revealed. "There is still a large number of individuals out there who we need to identify and arrest."
According to District Attorney Jeff Rosen, the stolen chips were intended for sale in Asia. Through efforts of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) and the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement has recovered 98 percent of the chips— some locally, some overseas, explained Michael Sterner, director of REACT.
Manufactured by Intel, the chips were delivered to Unigen so they could be assembled onto a circuit board and then sent to , the intended recipient and end-user. According to Sterner, the chips were not for personal computer use.
Google has no comment, a spokesperson said.
The suspects have been charged with armed robbery, kidnapping for robbery and excessive taking of property for their involvement.
Despite a modest budget of $2 million used for staff salary and equipment, REACT "faces severe funding challenges," Rosen said. REACT gets its funding from vehicle licensing fees, and the legislation for the funding expires on June 30.
In Mountain View and Los Altos, the REACT team that two Southern California men tried to skim from several gas pumps in December 2010. The two men were arrested, and the numbers were not compromised.
Editor's Note: Updated at 2:30 p.m. with Google statement and information about REACT.