Five men have been charged in a $37 million armed heist at a technology firm that authorities called the largest computer chip robbery ever in the San Francisco Bay area _ one of the nation's tech hotspots.
The men were arrested after as many as 15 people armed with rifles and handguns and wearing gloves and masks stormed a loading dock at Unigen Corp. on Feb. 27.
The robbers tied up several employees and locked them in a room before spending a half-hour loading flash memory chips into a truck, said Michael Sterner, director of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, a task force that investigated the case.
"This is the largest seizure and recovery of computer chips that we are aware of in the Bay Area, if not in California," Sterner said.
Other suspects were still being sought. Authorities declined to say what led them to the five men who were arrested, or provide information about the additional suspects.
Most of the chips were later found inside a small storage garage, although investigators said some ended up in Asia.
Defendants Jesus Meraz Jr., 25, Dylan Catayas Lee, 32, Rolando McKay Secreto, 38, and Leonard Abriam, 31, all of San Jose; and Pierre Ramos, 28, of Union City face charges that include armed robbery, false imprisonment and burglary, authorities said Wednesday.
They also face an enhancement known as excessive taking, which reflects the value of the components taken, said Sterner.
The defendants were arrested over a 10-day span that ended on April 7. They were being held without bail and were expected to be assigned attorneys and enter pleas on Friday during a court appearance.
All five face the possibility of life in prison if convicted of all charges, prosecutors said.
The California Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.