SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Twenty-one people were arrested and/or charged in connection to a scheme to steal and sell catalytic converters across the nation, according to a press release from the United States Department of Justice.
Law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels collaborated nationwide to execute a coordinated takedown of leaders and associates allegedly involved on Wednesday. The DOJ says that searches, seizures and arrests took place across nine states, including California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. A total of 21 people were arrested and or charged for their alleged part in the conspiracy.
Two separate indictments charging the 21 defendants were unsealed in the Eastern District of California court. Over 32 search warrants were completed and DOJ says law enforcement have seized millions of dollars in assets in the form of homes, bank accounts, cash and even luxury vehicles.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Phillip A. Talbert, says there’s a reason catalytic converter thefts have grown so much across the Golden State.
With California’s higher emission standards, our community has become a hot bed for catalytic converter theft. Last year approximately 1,600 catalytic converters were reportedly stolen in California each month, and California accounts for 37% of all catalytic converter theft claims nationwide. I am proud to announce that we have indicted nine people who are at the core of catalytic theft in our community and nationwide.
Here in California, the Eastern District returned a 40-count indictment which charged nine people with conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges.
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Court documents state that three brothers, Tou Sue Vang, 31, and Andrew Vang, 27, and Monica Moua, 51, all of Sacramento are accused of operating an unlicensed business from their residence. The brother allegedly bought stolen catalytic converters from local thieves before shipping them out to a business called DG Auto in New Jersey for processing. The Vang family is accused of selling over $38 million in stolen catalytic converters, according to court documents.
Nine defendents in New Jersey including Navin Khanna, aka Lovin Khanna, 39; Tinu Khanna, aka Gagan Khanna, 35; Daniel Dolan, 44; Chi Mo, aka David Mo, 37; Wright Louis Mosley, 50; and Ishu Lakra, 24, allegedly operated DG Auto in multiple places across the state. Court documents say the group knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and used a “de-canning” process to remove the precious metal powders from the catalytic core. DG Auto then allegedly sold the powders from California to another metal refinery for over $525 million.