California Teens Arrested for Posing as ICE Agents, Targeting Hispanic Victims

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
June 25, 2024US News
California Teens Arrested for Posing as ICE Agents, Targeting Hispanic Victims
The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team is seen in Santa Ana, California, May 11, 2017. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

A pair of California teens have been arrested for allegedly posing as federal immigration officers and robbing Hispanic victims throughout Orange County, south of Los Angeles, authorities announced Monday.

Laurentiu Baceanu and Vasile Alexandru, both 19, were arrested after pretending to be U.S. Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents and allegedly scamming numerous victims of hundreds of dollars.

Two separate robberies in Anaheim were reported last Thursday night and are believed to be connected, officials with Anaheim Police Department said. The victims reported to police that the young suspects drove away from the scene in a blue SUV.

A few hours later, investigators located their vehicle in Fullerton. The teens were arrested without incident, authorities said.

“Anaheim police detectives believe Alexandru and Baceanu have committed similar robberies in Anaheim, Orange County and the Western United States,” according to Anaheim police Sgt. Jon McClintock.McClintock.

“Detectives believe Alexandru and Baceanu targeted Hispanic victims, and additional victims may exist. Alexandru and Baceanu spoke Spanish during the robberies and presented a badge, falsely identifying themselves as law enforcement, before demanding the victims’ property.”

Investigators believe the teens used different vehicles, including a Volkswagen Atlas SUV and a blue Audi Q7 SUV, as they carried out their alleged crimes.

Authorities from several Orange County law enforcement agencies, including Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Westminster police departments, warned the public of the armed robbers. Victims throughout different communities were reporting similar incidents to local authorities and said they were threatened with deportation if they didn’t pay up.

In one of the reported incidents in nearby Westminster, a man riding a bicycle was approached by the two suspects in a blue SUV. The teens allegedly told the victim to stop and claimed to be undercover immigration agents. The suspects were able to receive an undisclosed amount of cash from the victim before driving away from the scene.

In a separate incident, a man was walking through a parking lot when he was approached by the two suspects in an SUV.

“The suspects claimed to be immigration agents and one of the suspects was possibly wearing a replica ICE badge. The victim could see into the vehicle and saw a black handgun in plain view on the center console. The suspects demanded the victim’s wallet and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the wallet before driving away in an unknown direction,” according to the Westminster Police Department.

Both suspects were booked into the Anaheim Police Department’s detention facility on suspicion of robbery and other offenses. They remain in custody without bail.

Authorities urged other possible victims to come forward and contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or