Diamond dealer arrested in connection with robberies
A JETSETTING socialite and dealer in gold and diamonds has been arrested in connection with a series of smash-and-grab robberies of jewellery stores across Melbourne.
Gangs Crime Squad detectives raided the CBD store of flamboyant Colombian-born dealer Alex Mendieta, 31, on Thursday.
Just before midnight, police revealed Mr Mendieta had been charged with the possession of stolen goods, recklessly possessing stolen goods and handling stolen goods.
Two Colombian nationals aged 36 and 34 were also arrested with him and charged with the same offences. The three men were bailed to appear on Tuesday at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.
Police suspect Mr Mendieta received stolen goods from armed thugs who robbed 33 jewellery stores across greater Melbourne over the past year.
The terrifying daylight robberies involved young criminals, some of them connected to the notorious Apex gang and on bail, confronting staff and customers with guns, machetes and baseball bats.
Several robberies led to high-speed police pursuits and dramatic arrests.
Police also suspect some of the goods were stolen during home invasions, which have recently plagued the state.
A Lamborghini was seized at a CBD address. Police also seized numerous items "believed to either be stolen or the proceeds of crime, including cash, gold and silver, precious stones and gold bullion”.
Police also executed warrants at residential properties in the CBD, Southbank and Caulfield North.
Mr Mendieta lists himself as the "Big Boss” at Gold Buyers Melbourne. His Facebook account displays a lavish lifestyle. He is shown sipping champagne on boats, in a pool at his St Kilda Rd penthouse, driving a Lamborghini and travelling the world.
Police could not give an estimate on the value of the seized goods. - Anthony Dowsley, David Hurley, Mark Buttler, Herald Sun