Former Marine Caught Stealing Military Equipment, Selling it to Buyers in Other States

Rafael Montalvo, 31, is accused of selling avionics and electronics testing equipment stolen from military installations and then shipping the goods to buyers in others states.

An Illinois state trooper could face more than two decades in prison after he was arrested over his alleged involvement in a scheme to sell stolen military equipment.

Former marine Rafael Montalvo, 31, was arrested on Friday on charges of conspiracy, theft of government property and transporting stolen goods between states.

Marine Corps air base in Cherry Point
A jet at the Marine Corps air base in Cherry Point, North Carolina. Twitter

Montalvo, from Yorkville, Illinois, is accused of conspiring with others to steal government-owned avionics and electronic testing equipment from multiple U.S. Marine Corps aircraft squadrons in North Carolina, and shipping the stolen items to buyers in other states.

He is accused of receiving money in exchange for the goods and paying those who had access to the equipment at military installations to steal them on his behalf before shipping the goods to him directly or to persons whom he directed, according to a statement from the attorney's office for the eastern district of North Carolina.

Montolva Faces 25 Years in Prison

The scheme allegedly started in March 2018 and continued up until his arrest on Friday. Montalvo faces a 25-year prison sentence if he is convicted of the charges.

"Montalvo is charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641, theft of government property, 18 U.S.C. § 2314, interstate transportation of stolen goods, and 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiracy to undertake those crimes," the statement said. "He faces a maximum penalty of 300 months in prison if convicted."

Illinois State Police said Montalvo was immediately stripped of his police powers and placed on leave after the charges were filed Montalvo, who was previously based at the Marine Corps air base in Cherry Point, North Carolina, is also a serving member of the Illinois National Guard.

Military Equipment Sold on eBay in 2016

In a similar case in 2016, more than $1 million worth of U.S. military equipment, including sniper telescopes, machine gun parts, flight helmets, and medical supplies, was stolen from a military base in Kentucky and later sold on eBay.

Eight people, including six U.S. soldiers, were found to have been involved in the racket. The items were sold to two civilians, who later sold the goods to anonymous buyers on eBay. The sales were later tracked to customers in Russia, China, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Moldova, Malaysia, Romania, and Mexico.