The leader of Banda Riviera Maya, Romanian Mihai Preda, and boss of the underworld criminal El Tiburon was arrested in Mexico

Mihai Preda is pointed out for leading an international organization dedicated to theft and fraud of bank accounts.

The Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR) obtained the indictment against Mihai Preda for his probable responsibility in various crimes of criminal association and bank fraud. The alleged criminal of Romanian origin is accused of being the leader of an international network dedicated to theft, cloning of bank cards, electronic transfers, and hacking of credit accounts in Mexico.

Through the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Regional Control (FECOR), the Mexican authorities were able to get a judge to sentence the accused to criminal proceedings due to sufficient evidence, in a determination that also included the measure of justified preventive imprisonment and a period of two months for the complementary investigation to be carried out.

Just last Tuesday, February 21, the General and Undersecretary of Public Security, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, informed about the extradition of the Romanian-born subject two days ago and highlighted his relationship with Florian Tudor, AKA “El Tiburon” (Romanian: Rechinul, English: The Shark) a subordinate who the Mexican justice system has previously apprehended. The calculation of the fraud is estimated in tens of millions of pesos.

The criminal gang operated in Quintana Roo, Yucatán, the State of Mexico, Hidalgo and the capital of the country (Photo: FGR)
The criminal gang operated in Quintana Roo, Yucatán, the State of Mexico, Hidalgo, and CDMX (Photo: FGR)

“We have, on this occasion, the extradition from Poland to Mexico of Mihai Preda. He is required by a district judge based in the southern prison for the crime of criminal association and fraud to credit institutions. He is a partner of Florian Tudor and alleged gang leader dedicated to extracting money from ATMs in the Riviera Maya,” explained the official during the Zero Impunity report presented at the morning conference.

According to the investigations, the criminal organization illegally withdrew cash from ATMs in different parts of Mexico: Quintana Roo, Yucatan, State of Mexico, Hidalgo, and the capital, totaling more than 70 million pesos.

The modus operandi of the criminal organization consisted, according to the FGR, of using their ATM companies to change the slots and keyboards of the machines, which allowed them to steal the money. In 2021, a judge granted an arrest warrant against Mihai “A” for his probable responsibility in the crime of criminal association.

The FGR requested a red notice from Interpol, and authorities in Polinia arrested Mihai Preda last July. In August 2022, the extradition request was formalized before Poland, which was declared admissible in January 2023.

Mihai "N" and Florian "N", a member of a Romanian mafia with an incidence in Mexico. Photo: Government of Mexico
Mihai Preda and Florian Tudor are members of the Romanian mafia with an incidence in Mexico. Photo: Government of Mexico

Mihai Preda was received for extradition at the Warsaw International Airport, and upon arrival in Mexico, he was handed over to the Mexican judicial authority. The actions took place with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) intelligence work of the Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) and Interpol Mexico. According to intelligence reports, the criminal group is the Banda de la Rivera Maya.

Florian Tudor, also known as El Tiburón, is currently facing prosecution for various crimes following his arrest in Mexico City in 2021. After this person was arrested, his lawyer assaulted members of the Federal Ministerial Police, and a member of the FGR tried to obstruct the arrest. Both subjects were arrested.

El Tiburon, hard to extradite

The Oltean criminal Florian Tudor was arrested in May 2021. in Mexico, and his extradition to Romania has been under trial ever since.

Six of his lieutenants have been convicted in Romania for various crimes – three for trying to kill a man on Tudor’s orders. The three have challenged the sentence.

Their lawyers based their defense on reports from Mexican prosecutor Jonathan Medina Nava, who attributed the attempted murder to a Mexican. So Tudor’s allies argue through their lawyers that they are not guilty because the investigation in Mexico established who committed the attempt.

Medina Nava had his bank account seized by Mexican financial investigators in 2021 on suspicions that he had received bribes from the head of the gangster group himself, Florian Tudor.

Jailed in the prison from which El Chapo escaped

Rechinu was arrested in Cancun, Mexico, on 27 May 2021 based on an international warrant issued by the Romanian authorities. A week later, he was moved from Mexico City’s North Penitentiary to the Altiplano maximum security prison. He immediately tried every trick in the book to escape.

On the night of 11 July 2015, Joaquín Guzmán Loera “El Chapo” became the first prisoner in history to escape from this maximum security prison. He escaped by traveling through a 1.5-kilometer-long tunnel using a motorcycle attached to rails. The tunnel was windy and illuminated.

How the Oltean gangster Rechinu wanted to get out of the prison from which El Chapo escaped

Rechin’s lawyers have urged his transfer from Altiplano to a more lenient prison.

A federal court ruled earlier this month that Florian Tudor must continue his extradition process to Romania by being held in Altiplano maximum security prison, not the northern prison, as the Romanian mafia leader’s defense had requested.

Judge Isabel Porras Odriozola, head of the Third Unitary Criminal Court in Mexico City, ruled that Florian Tudor, being charged with the crime of organized crime, must remain in a special high-security prison.

Porras Odriozola also stated that Florian Tudor, in addition to being considered a possible leader of a criminal organization operating at international level with a high criminal capacity and a significantly high institutional risk, is accused of crimes with a high social impact. His presence in prison with a medium-low security level would put the institution at risk and negatively influence other inmates.