FBI announces takedown of catalytic converter theft ring

Catalytic converters are a component in cars used to convert exhaust from engines into safe emissions.

Updated: November 2, 2022 - 7:40pm

The FBI on Wednesday announced that it had dismantled a national criminal ring centered around the theft of catalytic converters and their subsequent sale to a metal refinery.

Catalytic converters are a component in cars used to convert exhaust from engines into safe emissions. They use precious metals at the core, the bureau noted. Hence, their value as a potential target of theft.

"Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the United States executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown today of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers, and processors for their roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars," a bureau press release stated.

A coordinated set of arrests across California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia resulted in 21 arrests across five states. The individuals face charges under two separate indictments related to the scheme.

Nine of those arrested face a 40-count indictment in the Eastern District of California for conspiracy to transport the stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and other charges. That indictment describes a scheme in which California residents purchased stolen catalytic converters and sold them to DG Auto operators in New Jersey. Those entities then extracted the precious metals from the parts and sold them to a refinery for more than $545 million.

In the Northern District of Oklahoma, the second indictment describes a near identical scheme, also involving DG Auto. This 40-count indictment named 13 defendants.

"This national network of criminals hurt victims across the country," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a press release. "They made hundreds of millions of dollars in the process—on the backs of thousands of innocent car owners. Today's charges showcase how the FBI and its partners act together to stop crimes that hurt all too many Americans."

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