Springfield Man Pleads Guilty to Charges Related to Catalytic Converter Thefts and Money Laundering

www.Justice.gov,  Press Release, May 23, 2023

Defendant transported hundreds of stolen catalytic converters for sale in other states
BOSTON – A Springfield man pleaded guilty on May 17, 2023 in federal court in Boston to charges related to the theft and transportation of stolen catalytic converters and the sale of stolen catalytic converters to core buyers in other states. 

Jose Torres, a/k/a “Goldy,” a/k/a “Goldy Tech,” 37, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy transport stolen property in interstate commerce, interstate transportation of stolen property, and conspiracy commit money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Sept. 6, 2023. 

Torres and six other men were arrested on April 12, 2023, and charged with offenses related to the theft, transportation, and sale of stolen catalytic converters taken from over 470 vehicles during 2022 and 2023.

Catalytic converters are a component of a vehicle’s exhaust device that reduce the toxic gas and pollutants from a vehicle's internal combustion engine into safe emissions by catalyzing a redox reaction process. They are required components on all combustion engine automobiles in the United States as regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Catalytic converters use precious metals in their center or “core” and are regularly targeted for theft due to the high value of these metals – including palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Some of these precious metals are more valuable per ounce than gold and their value has been increasing in recent years, with black-market prices being more than $1,000 each. 

Catalytic converter theft has become a nationwide problem across a multitude of state, local, and federal jurisdictions. Catalytic converters thieves, sometimes referred to as “cutters,” conduct searches in residential neighborhoods, parking lots, and other locations to steal the most high-value catalytic converters. Located in a vehicle’s undercarriage, the theft of a vehicle's catalytic converter results in damage that renders the vehicle inoperable – both mechanically and legally under EPA regulations – until properly replaced. 
According to the charging documents, law enforcement throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire identified a large number of catalytic converter thefts for which a Maroon Acura was identified as having been involved. These incidents involved at least two suspects wearing dark clothing, who would target residential and commercial vehicles. The suspects were skilled and able to locate and cut away the catalytic converter from a vehicle within a minute in most instances, using battery operated power-tools, specifically a fast-cutting reciprocating saw. Some vehicles needed to be jacked up in order to access the catalytic converters and the suspects would promptly place the jack under the vehicle, raise it, cut the catalytic converter, stow it in the rear of the Maroon Acura and move on.

According to the charging documents, the investigation revealed that the Maroon Acura belonged to Rafael Davila, allegedly the theft crew leader who planned and participated in each of the thefts. It is further alleged that Rafael Davila engaged in catalytic converter thefts and burglaries on a full-time basis, committing these 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. Continue Press Release