The man suspected of stealing two of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jerseys and taking them home to Mexico was an avid collector who has been buying and selling American football memorabilia for more than 20 years.
A lengthy investigative report on the theft and recovery of Brady’s jerseys published by Sports Illustrated Tuesday confirmed authorities did use the tip from 19-year-old Dylan Wagner, a collector from Seattle, to track down Mauricio Ortega at his home near Mexico City last month.
SI reported that Mexican law enforcement officers came to a surprised Ortega’s front door at 5:30 AM where he surrendered the jerseys.
Dressed in his pajamas, his stunned wife looking on, Ortega was face-to-face with armed federal agents. According to a source in the Mexican government, a deal was presented: Hand over the Super Bowl jerseys and whatever else you’ve stolen, and you will sleep in your own bed not only tonight, but for the foreseeable future. Ortega fished a black trash bag out of a dresser drawer and gave it to the police, who took photos of the transaction to prove Ortega’s cooperation. -Sports Illustrated
Ortega maintained an eBay account, which he opened in 2002 and records show he conducted over 100 transactions, most recently a game-used Mark Sanchez Jets jersey. He was also known to purchase items through U.S. auction houses including a game-worn Joe Montana jersey from early in the Hall of Fame quarterback’s career, one he picked up in person.
Ortega often misused the media credential he obtained through his position as a supervisor for LaPresa, a tabloid-type newspaper, seeking autographs and taking photos with players he later printed out and had signed the next time he visited the U.S.
It’s believed that for a variety of reasons, he is unlikely to face charges.
SI’s story included conversations with law enforcement officials on both sides of the border who were involved in tracking down the jerseys, which likely have a combined value of at least $600,000.