7 suspects arrested in connection with thefts of hundreds of catalytic converters
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Seven suspects from western Massachusetts have been arrested in connection with thefts from across the region, including catalytic converters from over 470 vehicles.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said law enforcement in Massachusetts and New Hampshire had identified several catalytic converter thefts that reportedly involved a maroon Acura and at least two of the suspects wore dark clothing and targeted residential and commercial vehicles.
An investigation found that the suspect vehicle belonged to Rafael Davila of Feeding Hills, who is the alleged theft crew leader and allegedly planned and participated in each of the thefts. The U.S. Attorney’s office noted that it’s alleged that he engaged in the thefts on a full-time basis and would commit the thefts “multiple nights per week for upwards of eight hours a night.”
“Additionally, cell phone data allegedly revealed that Rafael Davila maintained meticulous notes accounting for the locations that he and his co-conspirators had targeted and the number of catalytic converters that had been stolen, including the makes and models and when they were dropped off,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted in a statement.
Authorities allege that Davila would commit the thefts with other suspects and that he was in charge of the planning and transportation for each incident, including using his vehicle, determining the prices of the converters, and purchasing any needed materials, including large quantities of saw blades for reciprocating saws and resistant gloves.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that an investigation found that the suspects were allegedly involved in the theft of catalytic converters from at least 471 vehicles across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023. Investigators believe that there are more thefts have not been identified or were not ever reported to law enforcement.
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT DATA:
|Date||Location||Number of Vehicles Stolen From|
Those involved in the theft of the converters would then reportedly sell them to 37-year-old Jose Torres of Springfield, who would then allegedly gather the stolen converters from several theft crews and then sell them to scrap dealers. Prosecutors allege that Torres then sold the stolen converters to scrap dealers who have since been charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office added that, based on the make and model of the vehicle and the converter code, Torres allegedly provided prices to Davila. They added in a statement:
“Knowing the prices of the most valuable converters, Davila and his crew would seek out those makes and models to target. Torres then negotiated with the core buyer and delivered the catalytic converters to their facility. It is alleged that Torres is known to have sold and transported thousands of stolen catalytic converters to scrap dealers in the Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey areas.”
In addition to the converter thefts, it’s alleged that Davila and two other suspects conspired to steal from three bank ATMs in Massachusetts in December 2022, as well as committed burglaries of two New Hampshire jewelry stores in January 2023.
Mass. State Police said that search warrants were executed on several locations on Wednesday in Agawam, Springfield, Palmer, and Holyoke. During those searches, investigators seized:
- Seven guns
- Six cars
- Seven motorcycles
- Two jet skis
- One boat
- One Can-Am Spyder
- More than 20 stolen catalytic converters
Mass. State Police spokesperson David Procopio said that the vehicles, motorcycles, jet skis, boat, and money were seized as “suspected proceeds of the crew’s criminal enterprise.”
The suspects arrested Wednesday have been charged with conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to commit bank theft, bank theft, and money laundering conspiracy:
- Rafael Davila (also known as ‘Robin Hood’), 35, of Feeding Hills
- Jose Torres (also known as ‘Goldy’ and ‘Goldy Tech’), 37, of Springfield
- Nicolas Davila, 25, of Springfield
- Jose Fonseca (also known as ‘Charlito’), 26, of Springfield
- Zachary Marshall, 26, of Holyoke
- Santo Feliberty, 34, of Springfield
- Alexander Oyola (also known as ‘Dirty’), 37, of Springfield
In total, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the suspects are allegedly responsible for an estimated $2 million in loses in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 2022 and 2023. They added that over 70 local police departments from across New England were involved in the investigation.
Initial court appearances for all the suspects are expected Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Boston.
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