Man arrested in Ecuador in brazen NYC theft of gold flakes

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

NEW YORK -- A fugitive wanted for the brazen theft of an 86-pound bucket of gold flakes worth nearly $1.6 million off an armored truck in midtown Manhattan has been arrested in Ecuador, police said Friday.

U.S. Homeland Security investigators and New York City and Ecuadorean police apprehended Julio Nivelo, who also uses aliases. In Ecuador, prosecutor Maria Aguirre said Nivelo would be tried in the country for theft. Ecuador does not permit extradition.

Nivelo was arrested Thursday after leaving the home of a relative, where he had been living, said police Col. Carlos Coloma. Officials tracked him from New York through Florida, they said.

Defense attorney Faricio Garcia argued that immigration documents indicate that Nivelo wasn't even in New York at the time of the theft because he has been banned from entering the U.S. since 2008.

Earlier, Ecuadoran police said in a statement that there was no registry of Nivelo entering the country legally, "and it is presumed that he did it in a clandestine manner at the border."

The gold hasn't been recovered. Surveillance cameras showed the thief swiping the 5-gallon bucket off the back of the vehicle in broad daylight on Sept. 29.

A guard had briefly gone to the truck's cab, apparently to retrieve his phone. Pedestrians and vehicles streamed past.