Thursday, May 12, 2022

A "boba tea shop in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is suspected to be a front for an international fencing operation"

SF Chronicle goes into detail about how the alleged criminal operation operated, how the investigators built their case, and the politics surrounding the announcement:

The probe leading to [one man's] arrest, which is dubbed Operation Auto Pilot, included bait cars, GPS tracking devices and undercover surveillance, and led to the recovery of more than 1,000 laptops, phones, cameras and other devices from locations allegedly associated with Le, officials said.


The bust comes at a crucial time for [the District Attorney], who is facing down a recall election led by critics who say he’s too soft on crime.


The investigation and ... arrest appeared to rebut a recent pro-recall commercial in which ... a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted car break-ins, states that [the District Attorney] “dissolved that unit and prevented me from collaborating with the police.”

In a July 27 farewell email to her then-colleagues, [the former assistant district attorney] references Operation Auto Pilot specifically and said she had “no doubt I will be reading about the success of (it) in the news soon”


Sharky Laguana, president of both the American Rental Car Association and the San Francisco Small Business Commission, praised the operation, which had used rental cars as bait.

Here's a Reddit thread, which, for what it's worth, makes it sound like it was fairly obvious illegality of some type was going on. 

And here's that advertisement: