By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Law enforcement agencies broke up a decade-old theft ring that stretched from California to Frederick, Maryland.

The thieves used what’s called booster bags, shopping bags with liners to block anti-theft devices.

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They hit high-end shopping malls for $20 million over 10 years before law enforcement caught them.

“Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois, Oregon Washington, they would steal the merchandise, bring it back to San Diego, they would take the merchandise across to Mexico and sell it at a higher rate,” said David Shaw of Homeland Security.

Anthony Banda said he was there when his parents were arrested in their California home.

“They had a search warrant, opened the door. He pointed the gun at me, I saw like six Border Patrol agents, they handcuffed me, they told me, asked me if I knew anyone was in the house,” Banda said.

“They didn’t let me speak to my parents, they didn’t say a word to me. They said we’ll contact you with information about what’s going to happen. I just don’t know what to do,” he said.

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His mother is charged with receiving $400,000 in stolen goods and transporting them to Mexico. Members of the ring are also charged in cases of assault while making their getaways.

“All of us are threatened, all of our public safety is threatened when a violent organization, whose willing to knock down baby carriages, willing to break employees arms to get away with their ill-gotten loot,” said acting U.S. attorney Alana Robinson.

Initially the cases were treated as individual instances, including a case in Frederick, Maryland.

“We started to look at surveillance video, who they’re linked to or associated with and we linked it back to the San Diego retail theft ring,” Shaw said.

According to the indictment the merchandise was sold to a fence who sold it from a store she operates in Tijuana.

The specifics on the theft in Maryland were not listed.

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