Houston man sent to prison for hijacking interstate freight shipment

By: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas
| Published 04/06/2021

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HOUSTON, TX -- A 22-year-old Houston man has been ordered to federal prison after stealing a large load of electronics originally set for delivery to a local college, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Maksims Klopovs pleaded guilty Jan. 4.

Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ordered Klopovs to serve a 30-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard Klopovs had entered the United States less than 60 days before his arrest. However, in that short time, he had already been involved in at least three similar freight hijackings in the Houston area. As part of the scheme, Klopovs created and used at least 12 fraudulent ID cards and rented multiple storage units to store the hijacked goods until they could be sold. The court determined the value of the goods involved in the four hijackings was in excess of $400,000. In handing down the sentence, Judge Ramos noted the extent and nature of the criminal conduct in this case justified the sentence.

“This individual brazenly hijacked an interstate freight shipment of computer and electronic equipment that was destined for students at a local university,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brad Scott of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Using the unique investigative authorities that HSI possesses we were able to disrupt his scheme and work with prosecutors to put him in federal prison.”

On June 17, 2019, authorities suspected a shipment of approximately $100,000 worth of computers and other electronics might be stolen. They were bound for Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.

After the shipment left the warehouse in Illinois, someone had changed the delivery instructions using an online system. Rather than deliver it directly to Del Mar College, the shipping company was asked to hold the load at their Corpus Christi warehouse for pickup.

Del Mar College did not request the change.

Klopovs arrived at the warehouse driving a rented U-Haul truck. He presented a fraudulent Texas driver’s license bearing his photo, but with the name Martin Smith. He also showed what was determined to be a fraudulent Del Mar College ID card with the title of Operations Manager also bearing his photograph and with the Smith name. He also had a Del Mar College business card in the name of Martin Smith.

Authorities arrested him after he claimed the shipment and began to load the electronics into the rental truck.

Klopovs has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. is prosecuting the case.

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