(CBS/AP) NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Federal prosecutors say seven people have been charged in connection with running a multi-million dollar jewelry-theft ring based in Virginia, with connections to South America.
Prosecutors say the suspects based in Richmond stole more than $4.6 million in jewelry from traveling sales representatives in Virginia and at least six other states, including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and California.
The defendants had initial court appearances in Newport News Tuesday.
Court documents say the group has ties to South American groups that work in teams to steal jewelry, gems and precious metals from those who carry hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise at one time.
Prosecutors say that after a successful robbery, members of the ring would travel to New York to sell the merchandise.